Broadband Internet and Social Capital

36 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018

See all articles by Andrea Geraci

Andrea Geraci

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Mattia Nardotto

University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Tommaso Reggiani

Masaryk University

Fabio Sabatini

Sapienza University of Rome - Department of Economics and Law; Euricse

Abstract

We study how the diffusion of broadband Internet affects social capital using two data sets from the UK. Our empirical strategy exploits the fact that broadband access has long depended on customers' position in the voice telecommunication infrastructure that was designed in the 1930s. The actual speed of an Internet connection, in fact, rapidly decays with the distance of the dwelling from the specific node of the network serving its area. Merging unique information about the topology of the voice network with geocoded longitudinal data about individual social capital, we show that access to broadband Internet caused a significant decline in forms of offline interaction and civic engagement. Overall, our results suggest that broadband penetration substantially crowded out several aspects of social capital.

Keywords: ICT, broadband infrastructure, networks, Internet, social capital, civic capital

JEL Classification: C91, D9, D91, Z1

Suggested Citation

Geraci, Andrea and Nardotto, Mattia and Reggiani, Tommaso and Sabatini, Fabio, Broadband Internet and Social Capital. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11855. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3261714

Andrea Geraci (Contact Author)

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Mattia Nardotto

University of Cologne - Department of Economics ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/mattianardotto/Home

Tommaso Reggiani

Masaryk University ( email )

Zerotinovo nam. 9
60177 Brno, 603 00
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.muni.cz/en/people/241092-tommaso-reggiani

Fabio Sabatini

Sapienza University of Rome - Department of Economics and Law ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
Roma, Rome 00185
Italy

Euricse ( email )

Via S. Giovanni 36
38122 Trento (TN)
Italy

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