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Lower-Income and Less Educated Still Face Broad Digital Divide


Location:
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
1090 Vermont Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005-4928
United States

More than 75% of Americans, across racial and ethnic groups, now use the Internet on a regular basis. Seventy-nine percent of Whites, 69% of African Americans, 59% of Hispanics, and more than 83% of other racial and ethnic minorities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, Native Americans, and multiracial Americans are now online.

Between December 2009 and January 2010, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies conducted a study of 2,741 respondents, oversampling African Americans and Hispanics, to understand national minority broadband adoption trends, and examine broadband adoption and use between and within minority groups. This report addresses the experiences of minority consumers of wireline and mobile broadband services and provides insights into some of the factors affecting the decisions of minorities who have adopted broadband.

Overcoming disparities in broadband Internet access depends in large part on identifying key factors that are most likely to influence the behaviors of potential users. To achieve universal access, ensuring that all citizens have access to high-speed connections to the Internet is paramount to opening the door to greater use and acceptance of the Internet in all aspects of our lives. However, research primarily focused on broadband adoption, to the exclusion of the discrete circumstances surrounding it, is not enough to accelerate minority acceptance and use, especially since educational status, income, and age are critical factors impacting the degree and quality of engagement.

In addition to providing trend data on minority broadband adoption and use, this report goes a step further -- it offers a research framework for understanding the behaviors affecting broadband acceptance. Specifically, this report contrasts the socioeconomic profile of minorities actively using the Internet against that of minorities who have yet to integrate the Internet into their daily lives.

  • One of the major findings of this study is that minority groups, middle-aged, higher income, and college-educated individuals are
  • the fastest growing group of broadband adopters. These individuals have greater levels of Internet use and home broadband adoption.
  • 91% of African Americans earning more than $50,000 regularly use the Internet as compared to 89% of Hispanics earning $50,000.
  • More than 75% each of African Americans and Hispanics earning between $20,000 and $50,000 also report regular use of the Internet.
  • 98% of Hispanics and 94% of African Americans with a college education report regular Internet use and over 80% of respondents
  • from each group with some college are regular Internet users.
  • 82% of Hispanics and 79% of African Americans earning more than $50,000 report a home broadband connection. More than
  • 60% each of African Americans and Hispanics, with annual incomes between $20,000 and $50,000, also report having a homebased
  • broadband connection.

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