nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2013‒12‒06
four papers chosen by
Walter Frisch
University Vienna

  1. The Skill Complementarity of Broadband Internet By Akerman, Anders; Gaarder, Ingvil; Mogstad, Magne
  2. Merchant Sharing Theory By Laurent Fournier
  3. Spillovers in networks of user generated content: Evidence from 23 natural experiments on Wikipedia By Kummer, Michael E.
  4. Access to Technology and the Transfer Function of Community Colleges: Evidence from a Field Experiment By Fairlie, Robert W.; Grunberg, Samantha H.

  1. By: Akerman, Anders (Stockholm University); Gaarder, Ingvil (European University Institute); Mogstad, Magne (University College London)
    Abstract: Does adoption of broadband internet in firms enhance labor productivity and increase wages? And is this technological change skill biased or factor neutral? We exploit rich Norwegian data with firm-level information on value added, factor inputs and broadband adoption to answer these questions. We estimate production functions where firms can change their technology by adopting broadband internet. A public program with limited funding rolled out broadband access points, and provides plausibly exogenous variation of broadband adoption in firms. This enables us to address endogeneity of broadband adoption and examine how it shifts the production technology and changes the productivity and labor outcomes of different types of workers. We find that broadband adoption favors skilled labor by increasing its relative productivity. The increase in productivity of skilled labor is especially large for college graduates in fields such as science, technology, engineering and business. By comparison, broadband internet is a substitute for workers without high school diploma, lowering their marginal productivity. Consistent with the estimated changes in labor productivity, wage regressions show the expansion of broadband internet improves (worsens) the labor outcomes of skilled (unskilled) workers. We explore several possible explanations for the skill bias of broadband internet. We find suggestive evidence that broadband internet complements skilled workers in executing nonroutine abstract tasks, and substitutes for unskilled workers in performing routine tasks. When we use our production function estimates to construct measures of firm level productivity, we find that broadband internet accounts for a few percent of the standard deviation in total factor productivity across firms. Taken together, our findings have important implications for the ongoing policy debate over government investment in broadband infrastructure to encourage productivity and wage growth.
    Keywords: broadband internet, labor productivity, tasks, technological change, skill bias
    JEL: J23 J24 J31 O33
    Date: 2013–11
  2. By: Laurent Fournier (Chercheur Indépendant - Aucune)
    Abstract: This paper is the first attempt to formalize a new field of economics; studding the Intangibles Goods available on the Internet. We are taking advantage of the digital world's specific rules to propose a theory of trading & sharing unified. A function based money is created as a world-wide currency; ⊔ (pronounced /k^p/). We argue that our system discourage speculation activities while it makes easy captured taxes for governments. The implementation removes the today's paywall on the Internet and provides a simple-to-use, open-source, free-of-charge, highly-secure, person-to-person, privacy-respectful, digital payment tool for citizens, using standard smart-phones with a strong authentication. Next step will be the propagation of the network application and we expect many shared benefits for the whole economics development.
    Keywords: Economics; Internet; Intangible Good; Sharing; Trading; Money; Digital Signature; Payment; Currency; Exchange Rate; Cultural Piracy; Copyright; Paywall; Peer-to-peer
    Date: 2013–11–22
  3. By: Kummer, Michael E.
    Abstract: Endogeneity in network formation hinders the identification of the role social networks play in generating spillovers, peer effects and other externalities. This paper tackles this problem and investigates how the link network between articles on the German Wikipedia influences the attention and content generation individual articles receive. Identification exploits local exogenous shocks on a small number of nodes in the network. It can thus avoid the usually required, but strong, assumptions of exogenous observed characteristics and link structure in networks. This approach also applies if, due to a lack of network information, identification through partial overlaps in the network structure fails (e.g. in classrooms). Exogenous variation is generated by natural and technical disasters or by articles being featured on the German Wikipedia's start page. The effects on neighboring pages are substantial; I observe an increase of almost 100 percent in terms of both views and content generation. The aggregate effect over all neighbors is also large: I find that a view on a treated article converts one for one into a view on a neighboring article. However, the resulting content generation is small in absolute terms. --
    Keywords: Social Media,Information,Knowledge,Spillovers,Large-scale Networks,Natural Experiment
    JEL: L17 D62 D85 D29
    Date: 2013
  4. By: Fairlie, Robert W. (University of California, Santa Cruz); Grunberg, Samantha H. (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)
    Abstract: Access to information may represent an important barrier to learning about and ultimately transferring to 4-year colleges for low-income community college students. This paper explores the role that access to information technology, in particular, plays in enhancing, or possibly detracting from, the transfer function of the community college. Using data from the first-ever field experiment randomly providing free computers to students, we examine the relationships between access to home computers and enrollment in transferable courses and actual transfers to 4-year colleges. The results from the field experiment indicate that the treatment group of students receiving free computers has a 4.5 percentage point higher probability of taking transferable courses than the control group of students not receiving free computers. The evidence is less clear for the effects on actual transfers to 4-year colleges and the probability of using a computer to search for college information (which possibly represents one of the mechanisms for positive effects). In both cases, point estimates are positive, but the confidence intervals are wide. Finally, power calculations indicate that sample sizes would have to be considerably larger to find statistically significant treatment effects and reasonably precise confidence intervals given the actual transfer rate point estimates.
    Keywords: computer, experiment, ICT, community college, transfers, technology
    JEL: I21 J24 O33
    Date: 2013–11

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