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Has the Digital Divide Been Reversed? Evidence from Five EU Countries

  • Authors: Smaranda Pantea, Bertin Martens
  • EUR Number: 25959 EN
  • Publication date: 5/2013


This paper examines the digital divide in internet use in general and checks whether there may be digital divides in internet use for specific purposes (leisure, improving human capital and obtaining goods and services). It uses a unique dataset which covers the entire clickstream of almost 20.000 internet users in the five largest EU economies during 2011. Our main finding is that, for those who have access to the Internet, the digital divide in internet use has been reversed. Low-income internet users spend more time on the internet than high-income users. In addition, we find the effect of income on internet use is not affected by employment status of the internet users and we discuss several possible explanations for this result. There is some evidence of an education-based digital divide in the ability to use websites related to career, education, health and buying and obtaining goods and services. Tertiary education has a negative effect on time spent on leisure websites and a positive effect on time spent on websites related to human capital and obtaining services and goods. Using quantile regressions, we find that the negative effect of income on time spent on internet and the positive effect of education on time spent on websites related to career, education, health and buying and obtaining goods and services hold for the entire conditional distribution of these online activities and that these effects are higher for the upper quantiles than for the lower quantiles. JEL codes: L86, D12, D13 Keywords: Internet Use, Time allocation, Leisure.

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