Fact of the Week: For Every 1 Percent Increase in Share of Workers Who Have Mobile Internet Access, German Firms Increase Productivity by 0.2 Percent

John Wu December 12, 2016
December 12, 2016

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Mobile Internet access allows workers to communicate with one another or access firm data or documents anywhere, any time. Supervisors with smart devices can easily clear simple decisions between meetings, workers who travel frequently can stay connected by email, and so on. By decoupling work from a physical location, mobile Internet increases information and communication flows for a firm, and increases productivity.

By analyzing more than 2,000 German firms between 2010 and 2014, economists Irene Bertschek and Thomas Niebel find that as the share of employees with mobile Internet access increases by 1 percent, labor productivity increases by 0.2 percent. Their 2014 sample indicated that a quarter of German workers used mobile Internet. It follows that if all German workers did, then firms could experience up to a 15 percent increase in productivity.