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Give PCs a Chance: Personal Computer Ownership and the Digital Divide in the United States and Great Britain

  • John Schmitt
  • Jonathan Wadsworth

This paper summarizes inequalities in PC ownership using data from the US Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) and the British General Household Survey (GHS) for the period 1984-98. Between 1988 and 1994, British households were more likely than US households to own a personal computer (PC). After 1994, however, US PC ownership rates accelerated rapidly, pushing the United States ahead of Britain. Differences in computer ownership rates are however much larger within the two countries, measured by income, education, age, family status, and race. Both the United States and Britain show large and growing inequality in PC ownership over the 1980s and 1990s. Analysis of ownership patterns of four other household consumer durables suggests that there may be significant limitations to relying solely on the market to eradicate PC inequality quickly.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0526.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0526
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "The Beveridge curve, unemployment and wages in the OECD from the 1960s to the 1990s - preliminary version," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20113, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Gandal, Neil & Greenstein, Shane & Salant, David, 1999. "Adoptions and Orphans in the Early Microcomputer Market," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 87-105, March.
  3. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  4. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  5. Editors : & David Marsden & Hugh Stephenson, 2001. "Labour Law and Social Insurance in the New Economy: A Debate on the Supiot Report," CEP Discussion Papers dp0500, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  7. Sue Fernie & Helen Gray, 2002. "Its a Family Affair: the Effect of Union Recognition and Human Resource Management on the Provision of Equal Opportunities in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0525, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Dinardo, J.E. & Pischke, J.S., 1996. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," Working papers 96-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology And Changes In Skill Structure: Evidence From Seven Oecd Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244, November.
  10. Gomulka, Joanna & Stern, Nicholas, 1990. "The Employment of Married Women in the United Kingdom 1970-83," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(226), pages 171-99, May.
  11. E. Berman & J. Bound & S. Machin, 1997. "Implications of skill-biased technological change: international evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20314, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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