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Women who have access to broadband have more children, but it may create a digital divide, says a new study.
High-speed Internet allows women to reconcile career and motherhood and enables larger families, but the positive impact is mainly for professionals with the danger that it creates a digital divide, according to a new study.
The study from Bocconi University in Italy shows access to broadband Internet has a positive effect on fertility, overall life satisfaction and time spent with children on weekdays, but also, since this effect largely benefits higher-educated women, it can lead to a digital fertility divide.
It analyses links between data on broadband availability in Germany to data on life course information, including fertility histories. The study says access to high-speed Internet increases the likelihood of working from home by almost 30% and means the share of higher-educated women aged 25-45 who give birth to a child rises from 7.2% per year to 8.7%, mostly due to a higher likelihood of having more than one child thanks to the more flexible forms of work the Internet allows.
However, there was no significant change for women who have fewer educational qualifications, with the number remaining around 6.3%.
The study was carried out by Francesco Billari and Luca Stella (from Bocconi University), with Osea Giuntella (from University of Pittsburgh) and has just been published in the journal Population Studies.
“We find that the channel through which high-speed Internet increases fertility is a better work-family balance, due to the spread of teleworking, smart working and part-time work among educated women”, says Francesco Billari, Professor of Demography at Bocconi University, Milan.