Original Research

Internet access and its relationship to subjective well-being in a developing region

Talita Greyling
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 21, No 1 | a1841 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v21i1.1841 | © 2018 Talita Greyling | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 March 2017 | Published: 28 February 2018

About the author(s)

Talita Greyling, School of Economics, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Internet access has been shown to play an important developmental role and Internet access to all people has become an international goal. This is also true for South Africa where the ‘South Africa Connect’ policy was introduced in 2013. The question arises whether Internet access goes beyond meeting developmental goals to improving the subjective well-being of people. Furthermore, if the association between Internet access and subjective well-being vary between different race and age groups. Previous research was performed in developed countries at a national level or for specific small subsamples, like the elderly; however, this study contributes to the literature by analysing a substantial sample, at sub-national level, in a heterogeneous, unequal society, in a developing country. The benefit is that heterogeneities masked in studies at a national, macro level are highlighted in a study at a sub-national, micro level. This article investigated the relationship between subjective well-being and Internet access within a developing region with a heterogeneous, unequal society. The article used a data set representative of the Gauteng population, the economic centre of South Africa, which was collected in 2013 by the Gauteng City Region Observatory. To analyse the data, ordered probit, ordinary least square and instrumental variable regression techniques were used. The results show that Internet access is positively related to subjective well-being and this relationship holds across all race groups and all age groups, from 18 years to over 65 years of age. In addition, it seems that the stark inequalities between race groups present in South Africa are fading among younger generations. Based on the results, the ‘South Africa Connect’ policy, which aims to give Internet access to all people, including those in Gauteng, the region analysed, is supported, as it not only contributes to the development of the region but also to the life satisfaction of the citizens.


internet; internet access; subjective well-being; life satisfaction; South Africa


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