Does the internet generate economic growth, international trade, or both?

Huub Meijers


Recent cross country panel data studies find a positive impact of internet use on economic growth and a positive impact of internet use on trade. The present study challenges the first finding by showing that internet use does not explain economic growth directly in a fully specified growth model. In particular openness to international trade variables seems to be highly correlated with internet use and the findings in the literature that internet use causes trade is confirmed here, suggesting that internet use impacts trade and that trade impacts economic growth. A simultaneous equations model confirms the positive and significant role of internet use to openness and the importance of openness to economic growth. Internet use has been shown to impact trade more in non-high income countries than in high income countries, whereas the impact of trade on economic growth is the same for both income groups.

JEL classification: C23, L86, F10, O40

Keywords: economic growth, internet, trade, panel

Download the working paper