Online Attention as Inferior Good [...]

From The Empirical Economics of Online Attention (2016):

We find that higher income households spend less total time online per week. Households making $25,000-$35,000 a year spend ninety-two more minutes a week online than households making$100,000 or more a year in income, and differences vary monotonically over intermediate income levels. Relatedly, we also find that the amount of time on the home device only slightly changes with increases in the number of available web sites and other devices – it slightly declines between 2008 and 2013 – despite large increases in online activity via smartphones and tablets over this time. Finally, the monotonic negative relationship between income and total time suggests online attention is an inferior good, and we find that this relationship remains stable, exhibiting a similar slope of sensitivity to income. We call this property persistent attention inferiority. There is a generally similar decline in total time across all income groups, which is consistent with a simple hypothesis that the allocation of time online at a personal computer declines in response to the introduction of new devices. (Source)

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Audrey Watters

Writer. Troublemaker.