Have we finally bridged the digital divide? Smart phone and Internet use patterns by race and ethnicity

Robert W. Fairlie


Two decades ago an influential article documented the alarming disparities that existed in access to computers and the Internet between African-Americans and whites (Hoffman and Novak, 1998). Using the latest U.S. Census Bureau/Bureau of Labor Statistics data on computer and Internet access, I find that the “digital divide” has not been bridged and remains as large as it was two decades ago. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are less likely to use the Internet on smart phones, computer, tablets or other devices than are whites. A statistical decomposition analysis reveals that income and education inequalities are the leading causes of the disparities in access to technology. The findings have implications for policies that subsidize broadband to low-income families.


Digital Divide, Technology, Inequality, Internet

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i9.7919

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