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Broadband Impacts

December 7, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Joshua Mueller

Executive Summary 

High-speed internet can increase access to information and digital tools, enabling people to participate in society in a variety of new ways. These activities can have significant downstream impacts on individuals and communities, depending on the particular context and use of internet-enabled functions. A wide body of literature indicates that, in general, higher rates of broadband access are associated with positive socioeconomic, health, and educational outcomes. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased attention to the need for access to reliable high-speed internet in the future in order to ensure individual well-being. 

Highlights 

  • Increased broadband adoption is associated with higher employment levels, agricultural output, housing values, and business formation.
    • There is mixed evidence regarding the effects of broadband adoption on wages and worker productivity.
  • Broadband access reduces time and cost barriers to the use of healthcare resources.
  • Students with broadband access at home perform significantly better on a variety of educational assessments compared to their peers without home broadband access.

Limitations 

  • Broadband access is highly correlated with other factors, such as income and education level, so attributing impacts solely to broadband access is difficult and rare.
  • Potential negative consequences of internet use, such as addiction or privacy breaches, have not been widely studied in the context of broadband expansion.
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