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Does Broadband Internet Affect Fertility?

SOEPpapers 928, 33 S.

Francesco C. Billari, Osea Giuntella, Luca Stella


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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 highspeed 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.

JEL-Classification: J11;J22
Keywords: Internet, Low Fertility, Work and Family, Teleworking
Frei zugängliche Version: (econstor)