How Social Well-Being Is Affected by Digital Inequalities

Moritz Büchi, Noemi Festic, Michael Latzer


Digital inequalities have real consequences for individuals’ everyday lives—this basic assumption drives digital inequality research. Recent efforts have focused on tangible benefits of online engagement, yet subjective quality of life measures also matter as Internet outcomes. This article contributes to closing this gap. First, it theoretically introduces subjective social well-being—the appraisal of one’s functioning in society—as a consequence of digital participation, potential, and perception differences. Second, it tests the dependence of social well-being on these three dimensions using structural equation modeling with nationally representative survey data. Results reveal that the perception of digital belongingness directly increases social well-being, and Internet skills as digital potential do so indirectly. The net effect of digital participation is insignificant. These findings lead to recommendations for policies targeting digital inequalities and future research directions.


digital inequality, digital divide, Internet use, skills, well-being, information society, Internet outcomes, social inequality

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