Internet Use and Depression Among the Elderly
George S. Ford
Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies
Sherry G. Ford
University of Montevallo
October 15, 2009
Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Paper No. 38
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 directs over $7 billion to expand broadband Internet availability and adoption in the United States. One target of such funding is the elderly population, a group of Americans for which broadband adoption is relatively low. An interesting question is what benefits do such efforts afford? We employ a dataset of over 7,000 elderly retired persons to evaluate the role of Internet use on mental well-being. Well-being is measured using the eight-point depression scale developed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies (CES-D). Empirical techniques include single equation regression, instrumental variables and propensity score methods. All procedures indicate a positive contribution of Internet use to mental well-being of elderly Americans, and estimates indicate that Internet use leads to about a 20% reduction in depression classification. As depression is estimated to cost the United States about $100 billion annually, expanding Internet use among the elderly may have significant economic payoffs.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Elderly, Broadband, Depression, CES-D, Internet, Communications, Propensity Score, Matching, Instrumental Variables, Economic Development
JEL Classification: A10, C1, C3, D1, H30, H4, I1, L96working papers series
Date posted: October 26, 2009
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