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Race and the Digital Divide

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  • Fairlie Robert W

    () (University of California)

Abstract

In recent years, a plethora of public and private programs in the United States have been created to close the "Digital Divide." Interestingly, however, we know very little about the underlying causes of racial differences in rates of computer and Internet access. In this paper, I use data from the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the August 2000 Current Population Survey (CPS) to explore this question. Estimates from the CPS indicate that Mexican-Americans are roughly one-half as likely to own a computer and one-third as likely to have Internet access at home as whites. The black home computer rate is 59 percent of the white rate and the black home Internet access rate is 51 percent of the white rate. Using Blinder-Oaxaca decompositions, I find that racial differences in education, income and occupation contribute substantially to the black/white and Mexican-American/white gaps in home computer and Internet access rates. The digital divide between races, however, is not simply an "income divide" as income differences explain only 10 to 30 percent of the gaps in access to technology. I do not find evidence that price or school differences are responsible for the remaining gaps. I find some evidence, however, that language barriers may be important in explaining low rates of computer and Internet access among Mexican-Americans.

Suggested Citation

  • Fairlie Robert W, 2004. "Race and the Digital Divide," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:contributions.3:y:2004:i:1:n:15
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert W. Fairlie & Samantha H. Grunberg, 2014. "Access To Technology And The Transfer Function Of Community Colleges: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1040-1059, July.
    2. Luis Hernando Gutierrez & Luis Fernando Gamboa, 2008. "An approximation to the digital divide among low income people in Colombia, Mexico and Perú: two composite indexes," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 004710, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    3. Fairlie, Robert W. & Kalil, Ariel, 2017. "The effects of computers on children's social development and school participation: Evidence from a randomized control experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 10-19.
    4. Robert W. Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 211-240, July.
    5. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
    6. Carare, Octavian & McGovern, Chris & Noriega, Raquel & Schwarz, Jay, 2015. "The willingness to pay for broadband of non-adopters in the U.S.: Estimates from a multi-state survey," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 19-35.
    7. Fairlie Robert W., 2016. "Do Boys and Girls Use Computers Differently, and Does It Contribute to Why Boys do Worse in School Than Girls?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 59-96, January.
    8. George Bulman & Robert W. Fairlie, 2015. "Technology and Education: Computers, Software, and the Internet," CESifo Working Paper Series 5570, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Song, Moohoun & Orazem, Peter & Singh, Rajesh, 2006. "Broadband Access, Telecommuting and the Urban-Rural Digital Divide," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12495, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    10. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 2012. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(561), pages 727-753, June.
    11. Vicente, Maria Rosalia & Lopez, Ana Jesus, 2006. "Patterns of ICT diffusion across the European Union," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 45-51, October.
    12. Beltran, Daniel O. & Das, Kuntal K. & Fairlie, Robert W., 2006. "Do Home Computers Improve Educational Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Current Population Surveys and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997," IZA Discussion Papers 1912, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Prieger, James E. & Hu, Wei-Min, 2008. "The broadband digital divide and the nexus of race, competition, and quality," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 150-167, June.
    14. Goldfarb, Avi & Prince, Jeff, 2008. "Internet adoption and usage patterns are different: Implications for the digital divide," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 2-15, March.
    15. Fairlie, Robert W., 2012. "Academic achievement, technology and race: Experimental evidence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 663-679.

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