We document a causal impact of online user-generated information on real-world economic outcomes. In particular, we conduct a randomized field experiment to test whether additional content on Wikipedia pages about cities affects tourists' choices of overnight visits. Our treatment of adding information to Wikipedia increases overnight stays in treated cities compared to nontreated cities. The impact is largely driven by improvements to shorter and relatively incomplete pages on Wikipedia. Our findings highlight the value of digital public goods for informing individual choices.
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We are grateful to Irene Bertschek, Avi Goldfarb, Shane Greenstein, Tobias Kretschmer, Michael Luca, Thomas Niebel, Marianne Saam, Greg Veramendi, Joel Waldfogel, and Michael Zhang as well as seminar audiences at the Economics of Network Industries conference (Paris), ZEW Conference on the Economics of ICT (Mannheim), Advances with Field Experiments 2017 Conference (University of Chicago), 15th Annual Media Economics Workshop (Barcelona), Conference on Digital Experimentation (MIT), and Digital Economics Conference (Toulouse) for valuable comments. Ruetger Egolf, David Neseer, and Andrii Pogorielov provided outstanding research assistance. Financial support from SEEK 2014 is gratefully acknowledged. 1
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