Does Broadband Internet Affect Fertility?

35 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2017

See all articles by Francesco C. Billari

Francesco C. Billari

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management

Osea Giuntella

University of Oxford

Luca Stella

Bocconi University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


The spread of high-speed Internet epitomizes the digital revolution, affecting several aspects of our life. Using German panel data, we test whether the availability of broadband Internet influences fertility choices in a low-fertility setting, which is well-known for the difficulty to combine work and family life. We exploit a strategy devised by Falck et al. (2014) to obtain causal estimates of the impact of broadband on fertility. We find positive effects of high-speed Internet availability on the fertility of high-educated women aged 25 and above. Effects are not statistically significant both for men, low-educated women, and under 25. We also show that broadband access significantly increases the share of women reporting teleworking or part-time working. Furthermore, we find positive effects on time spent with children and overall life satisfaction. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that high-speed Internet allows high-educated women to conciliate career and motherhood, which may promote fertility with a "digital divide". At the same time, higher access to information on the risks and costs of early pregnancy and childbearing may explain the negative effects on younger adults.

Keywords: Internet, low fertility, work and family, teleworking

JEL Classification: J11, J22

Suggested Citation

Billari, Francesco C. and Giuntella, Osea and Stella, Luca, Does Broadband Internet Affect Fertility?. Available at SSRN: or

Francesco C. Billari (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136

Osea Giuntella

University of Oxford ( email )

No Address Available

Luca Stella

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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