Mums Go Online: Is the Internet Changing the Demand for Healthcare?

48 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019

See all articles by Sofia Amaral Garcia

Sofia Amaral Garcia

Hasselt University

Mattia Nardotto

University of Cologne - Department of Economics

Carol Propper

Imperial College London Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO)

Tommaso Valletti

European Union - European Commission

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

We study the effect of internet diffusion on childbirth procedures performed in England between 2000 and 2011. We exploit an identification strategy based on geographical discontinuities in internet access generated by technological factors. We show that broadband internet access increased Cesarean-sections: mothers living in areas with better internet access are 2.3 percent more likely to have a C-section than mothers living in areas with worse internet access. The effect is driven by first-time mothers who are 6.1 percent more likely to obtain an elective C-section. The increased C-section rate is not accompanied by changes in health care outcomes of mothers and newborns. Health care costs increased with no corresponding medical benefits for patients. Heterogeneity analysis shows that mothers with low income and low education are those more affected: thanks to the internet, they progressively close the C-section gap with mothers with higher income and education. We show evidence documenting the growing importance of the internet as a source of health related information, and we argue that patient's access to online information is changing the relationship between health care providers and patients.

Keywords: c-sections, Information, internet

Suggested Citation

Amaral Garcia, Sofia and Nardotto, Mattia and Propper, Carol and Valletti, Tommaso, Mums Go Online: Is the Internet Changing the Demand for Healthcare? (March 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13625. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3363538

Sofia Amaral Garcia (Contact Author)

Hasselt University ( email )

Agoralaan - building D
Gebouw D
Diepenbeek, 3590
Belgium

Mattia Nardotto

University of Cologne - Department of Economics ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany

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

Carol Propper

Imperial College London Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) ( email )

12 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Economics/department/profiles/propper.htm

Tommaso Valletti

European Union - European Commission

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