Is there a Digital Divide?

The new issue of the Economic Letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco arrived today: Is There a Digital Divide?.

The “digital divide” in the U.S. is based on differential computer use across education, income, and race/ethnicity groups. In the extreme, a Hispanic individual with a high school degree or less and family income less than $15,000 per year has only a 30.6% chance of using a computer (at home, work, or school), compared to a 93.8% chance for a white person with a graduate degree and family income over $75,000 per year.

Accounting for the independent effects of these and other factors indicates that college education is the key determinant of computer use, although substantial gaps are evident across income categories and, to a lesser extent, racial/ethnic groups as well.

Moreover, additional tabulations with 1997 data (not displayed) indicate that, in percentage point differences, these gaps have been relatively stable over time (although they are likely to shrink as computer prices fall further and usage rates for some groups approach the limit of 100%)

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