Brookings Mountain West presents “Does Access to Information Technology Make People Happier? Insights from Well-being Surveys from around the World,” a talk by Carol Graham, senior fellow, Global Economy and Development.
This lecture summarizes new research on the relationship between access to cell phones, TV, and the internet and subjective well-being worldwide. Technology access is positive for well-being in general, but with diminishing marginal returns for those who already have much access. It is also associated with increased stress and anger among cohorts for whom access to the technologies is new. The increased financial inclusion in very poor countries that comes with cell phones and mobile banking also has effects on well-being. Well-being levels are higher in the countries with higher levels of access to mobile banking, but so are stress and anger. This is in keeping with the author’s earlier research, which shows that while development raises aggregate levels of well-being in the long run, high levels of frustration often accompany the process, and can help explain unexpected social unrest at times that countries are experiencing significant economic progress.