Friday, September 23, 2011

The Internet makes you happy

We have previous established that the Internet, contrarily to conventional wisdom, makes people more social. Does this also mean that people with Internet access are happier? Of course, one should take into account that those without Internet, at least nowadays, are likely to face hardships like low income and education.

Thierry Pénard, Raphaël Suire and Nicolas Poussing do such an analysis for Luxembourg and find indeed that Internet users are happier, especially among those with lower incomes. This is also true when taking into account the intensity of Internet use. This implies that making the Internet accessible to lower socio-economic classes can improve welfare, possibly significantly. Of course, one has to take with a grain of salt studies of happiness based on surveys that ask for subjective self-evaluations. That grain of salt may be bigger when one considers who small Luxembourg is. The approach then becomes similar to the randomized experiments in the development literature where results for a small set of villages are difficult to apply to other contexts. Yet, Luxembourg is surprisingly diverse, so maybe these results are generalizable. Readers, you can now safely that you are now happier from being on the Internet and reading this.

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