Internet Use and Capability Change in Rural Mexico

Jeffrey Swindle, University of Michigan

Duflo’s (2012) Tanner Lecture focuses on why “hope” should be included as a primary human capability and development goal. Duflo highlights a need for rigorously measuring the impact of development interventions on individuals’ capabilities. I evaluate the impact of the construction of an Internet café by a development NGO in rural Mexico through survey data from a sample of rural communities (N>1600 individuals) both before and six months after construction. I find that Internet use nearly doubled among young adults (ages 15-24), individuals’ social and educational capabilities increased, which some described as greater “hope” that motivated them to work hard to convert their resources to capabilities, but that immediate development outcomes (employment, literacy, or healthcare) were unaffected. It is argued that measuring changes in capabilities in field experiments is important to broadly capture the influence of development interventions, particularly when interventions’ influence fall outside the boundaries of pre-determined goals.

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Presented in Poster Session 3