[LINK] The digital divide
Sat, 12 Feb 2000 11:03:07 +1100
The SMH today
carries the following:
A Herald analysis of unpublished figures from the Australian Bureau of
Statistics on home access to the Internet illustrates starkly the depth of
Australia's digital divide.
Households on $150,000 a year or more are almost 11 times more likely to be
connected to the Net than those on less than $20,000.
By August 1999, the latest available figures, 66.4 per cent of those in the
highest income bracket had home Internet access, compared with only 5.7 per
cent for the lowest.
This socio-economic index of the digital divide - the difference between
the percentage of households with Internet access in a given income group
and the top income group - progressively increases as the income gap widens.
It is 22.2 points for the second highest income group on $100,000 to
$150,000 a year (where 44.2 per cent of households have access), widens
steadily to 42.2 points for those in the average income bracket of $35,000
to $50,000 (24.2 per cent access) and rises to a massive 60.7 points for
the poorest households below $20,000.
What's more, even as overall penetration of the Net increases explosively -
Australians are among the most enthusiastic "new adopters" of technology of
any nation in the world - this gap is steadily widening.
Between August 1998 and August 1999, the proportion of Australian
households with home Internet access increased from just under 18 per cent
to 22.6 per cent - that's 1.6 million homes.
At the same time, the gap between the richest and lowest income households
widened from 46.9 points to 60.7.
The divide for all other income groups also increased over the period.
Access to the Internet through work or other sites, like universities or
Internet cafes, helps narrow the digital divide, but only slightly.
In the year to November 1998, almost 59 per cent of adults on more than
$46,000 accessed the Net from any site, compared with only 18.8 per cent
for those on less than $12,000 a year.
A similar digital divide exists between city and country.
In August 1999, 25.7 per cent of homes in capital cities had Internet
access compared with 17 per cent in the rest of the country. In the
previous 12 months, 44 per cent of adults in the capital cities had
accessed the Net from home, work or other sites, compared with 35 per cent
in other areas.
However, the figures also show that, unlike the digital divide between rich
and poor, the gap in access from the city to the bush is gradually
>From 1996 to 1998, the latest available figures, the proportion of country
households online grew slightly faster than in the capital cities.
Nevertheless, the divide is still a big one and it affects businesses in
the bush, as well as families.
Strange that there's no mention of this in the so-called "ground-breaking"
e-commerce report, E-Commerce - beyond 2000.
Maybe the punters don't figure in the Report's forecast of 2.7 per cent GDP
growth by 2007 ($14b in today's terms) from e-commerce. Yeah? From the
Report's predicted base of $1.3b in 2001?
Those possums at NOIE should heed the words of the Pope (or was it Max
Gillies?): Stop it or you'll go blind.