Internet Use and Depression Among the Elderly

Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Paper No. 38

29 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2009

See all articles by George S. Ford

George S. Ford

Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies

Sherry G. Ford

University of Montevallo

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 15, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Elderly, Broadband, Depression, CES-D, Internet, Communications, Propensity Score, Matching, Instrumental Variables, Economic Development

JEL Classification: A10, C1, C3, D1, H30, H4, I1, L96

Suggested Citation

Ford, George S. and Ford, Sherry G., Internet Use and Depression Among the Elderly (October 15, 2009). Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Paper No. 38, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1494430 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1494430

George S. Ford

Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies ( email )

5335 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Suite 440
Washington, DC 20015
United States

Sherry G. Ford (Contact Author)

University of Montevallo ( email )

Montevallo, AL 35115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.montevallo.edu

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