Broadband Internet and Social Capital

36 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018

See all articles by Andrea Geraci

Andrea Geraci

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Mattia Nardotto

KU Leuven

Tommaso Reggiani

Masaryk University

Fabio Sabatini

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


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:

Andrea Geraci (Contact Author)

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) ( email )

Mattia Nardotto

KU Leuven ( email )

Naamsestraat 69
Leuven, 3000


Tommaso Reggiani

Masaryk University ( email )

Zerotinovo nam. 9
60177 Brno, 603 00
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://

Fabio Sabatini

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

Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
Roma, Rome 00185

Euricse ( email )

Via S. Giovanni 36
38122 Trento (TN)

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