Twitter is making us weird, and gaming is making us anti-social, and Facebook is making us lonely, so it couldn't possibly be the case this ineffable and unwieldy force called Internet could be leading to more marriages. Right?
Actually, that's precisely the conclusion from Andriana Bellou's new paper, "The Impact of Internet Diffusion on Marriage Rates: Evidence from the Broadband Market." Bellou doesn't just find a correlation between broadband adoption and rising marriage rates. She also finds that marriage rates among twentysomethings rose significantly in areas after broadband became available, suggesting a causal link.
Skeptical? So was I. Broadband access has been growing across the country for the last 20 years. Marriages, meanwhile, have been in decline. The century-long story on marriage rates, via Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, conclusively shows marriage rates (in the light purple) declining since the 1970s.
Bellou herself finds young twentysomethings less likely to marry in 2000 than they were in 1980, or '85, or '90, or '95. Here's that graph:
Furthermore, if high-income areas are more likely to have broadband access anyway, that could skew the results toward their conclusion. High-income women are the *only* group of women likely to be married today than they were in the 1970s, according to the Hamilton Project.