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Online networks and subjective well-being

Fabio Sabatini () and Francesco Sarracino

No wp54, Econometica Working Papers from Econometica

Abstract: Does Facebook make people lonely and unhappy? Empirical studies have produced conflicting results about the effect of social network- ing sites (SNS) use on individual welfare. We use a representative sample of the Italian population to investigate how actual and virtual networks of social relationships influence subjective well-being (SWB). We find a significantly negative correlation between online networking and self-reported happiness. We address endogeneity in online net- working by exploiting technological characteristics of the pre-existing voice telecommunication infrastructures that exogenously determined the availability of broadband for high-speed Internet. We try to further disentangle the direct effect of SNS use on well-being from the indirect effect possibly caused by the impact of SNS's on trust and sociability in a SEM analysis. We find that online networking plays a positive role in SWB through its impact on physical interactions. On the other hand, SNS use is associated with lower social trust, which is in turn positively correlated with SWB. The overall effect of network- ing on individual welfare is significantly negative.

Keywords: social participation; online networks; Facebook; social trust; social capital; subjective well-being; hate speech; broadband; digital divide (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C36 D85 O33 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap, nep-ict, nep-ltv, nep-net, nep-soc and nep-ure
Date: 2014-06
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Related works:
Journal Article: Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Online networks and subjective well-being (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Online networks and subjective well-being (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Online networks and subjective well-being (2014) Downloads
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