March 2015

Broadband in the Labor Market: The Impact of Residential High Speed Internet on Married Women's Labor Force Participation

Lisa J. Dettling


This paper investigates how high-speed home Internet has impacted labor supply. Using an instrumental variables strategy that exploits cross-state variation in supplyside constraints to residential broadband Internet access, I find that exogenously determined high-speed Internet usage leads to a 4.1 percentage point increase in labor force participation for married women. There is no corresponding effect on single women or men. Among married women, the largest increases in participation are found among college-educated women with children. Supplemental analyses suggest that Internet use for telework and time saving in home production explain the increase in participation. The results suggest home Internet facilitates work-family balance.

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Keywords: female labor force participation, high-speed Internet, opting out, work and family


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Last Update: June 26, 2020