Does Providing Free Internet Access to Low-Income Households Affect COVID-19 Spread?

34 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2022 Last revised: 2 May 2022

Date Written: January 19, 2022

Abstract

This paper evaluates whether a policy of providing free, at-home internet for lower-income households can reduce COVID-19 case rates among those households. Using data from a pilot program in Toronto, I find that the introduction of free, at-home internet in large apartment blocks within a low-income neighbourhood leads to a 13.5% reduction in weekly cases in that neighbourhood. Having in-home WiFi reduces the propensity of residents to visit businesses in the arts, entertainment, and recreation category, suggesting that WiFi benefits residents by providing in-home substitutes for leisure activities.

Note:
Funding: This paper is funded by a start-up grant at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Declaration of Interests: The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper.

Keywords: COVID-19, Internet Access, Digital Divide

JEL Classification: I18, L96, L98

Suggested Citation

Goetz, Daniel, Does Providing Free Internet Access to Low-Income Households Affect COVID-19 Spread? (January 19, 2022). Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 4012970, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4012970 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4012970

Daniel Goetz (Contact Author)

Rotman School of Management ( email )

United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
32
Abstract Views
258
PlumX Metrics