Addressing Spatial Inequality in Broadband Use and Community-Level Outcomes

Caroline J. Tolbert, Karen Mossberger, Natasha Gaydos, Mattia Caldarulo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter considers the significance of place for broadband policy evaluation and examines long-term data on Chicago neighborhoods as an example of quasi-experimental design. Interventions are often targeted to low-income urban neighborhoods or rural communities, with goals for increased local employment, economic development, or community health. Measuring outcomes by place provides a way to aggregate impacts for individual residents and to suggest potential spillover benefits for communities. Evaluating broadband use (i.e., subscriptions) over time in communities can address issues of causation as well as long-term outcomes of use. Chicago’s Smart Communities program illustrates the benefits of conducting long-term evaluation, taking advantage of new American Community Survey data that allows tracking of broadband subscriptions in smaller or less-populated geographies such as neighborhoods or rural communities. Finally, the chapter discusses strategies for expanding community-level research through other quasi-experimental designs and the creation and utilization of community-level data on broadband adoption and use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTransforming Everything?
Subtitle of host publicationEvaluating Broadband’s Impacts Across Policy Areas
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9780190082871
ISBN (Print)9780190082888
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • community outcome
  • long-term impact
  • longitudinal evaluation
  • neighborhood
  • quasi-experiment
  • spatial inequality
  • spillover benefit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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