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Access to technology leads to happiness, Fox researchers find


June 9th, 2015

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shutterstock_146356064While money can’t buy happiness, access to technology is capable of producing that very result, researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found.

The team of Fox School researchers examined the role played by information and communication technology (ICT), uncovering a link between it and personal well-being. Their research paper, titled, “Does information and communication technology lead to the well-being of nations? A country-level empirical investigation,” has been accepted for upcoming publication by top academic journal, MIS Quarterly.

Kartik Ganju, Fox School PhD candidate; Dr. Paul A. Pavlou, Milton F. Stauffer Professor of Management Information Systems; and Dr. Rajiv D. Banker, Merves Chair in Accounting and Information Technology comprised the Fox research team.

The team argued that the adoption of ICT by countries leads to an increase in levels of well-being of its citizens, and that doing so helps citizens develop social capital and achieve social equality.

The Fox research team grouped 110 countries into three categories (low ICT, medium ICT and high ICT). The researchers found that countries with low levels of ICT could increase the happiness levels of their citizens by giving them access to mobile telephone lines. Hence, countries with low levels of ICT may not have to invest in expensive fixed line networks to increase the level of their citizens’ happiness, but could “leap-frog” the adoption of these systems in favor of mobile telephones, to increase happiness.

Using the results of a Gallup World Poll survey, which measured the global well-being of individual nations, Fox researchers found that the adoption of ICT led to an increase in the well-being of its citizens. Moreover, they found that access to ICT gave individuals a voice, “and an opportunity to communicate with others like themselves,” Ganju said. ICT also impacted the health of a nation’s people, with newfound access to proper healthcare practices, the team said. The researchers also cited access to education and real-time information that ICT affords as additional benefits.

“Most people assume that by giving an individual a certain amount of money that you can make him or her happier, and we found that this is not the case,” Ganju said. “We found that it is not just the income of GDP of a country that renders happiness. Access to information and communication technology allows people to feel an interconnected bond with each other than cannot obtain with money.”

“Suddenly, people were being exposed to different markets and rates. This allowed them to better bargain and achieve more-favorable pricing scenarios,” said Pavlou, Fox School’s Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs and Strategic Initiatives. “Regardless of a particular nation’s gross-domestic product, access to technology can amplify that country’s productivity and the well-being of its people,” Pavlou added. “ICT works to even the playing field between the wealthiest and poorest of nations.”

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