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Is internet on the right track? The digital divide, path dependence, and the rollout of New Zealand’s ultra-fast broadband

Author

Listed:
  • Eyal Apatov

    () (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

  • Nathan Chappell

    () (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

  • Arthur Grimes

    () (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

Abstract

Using data on internet access for New Zealand’s 46,637 meshblocks, we examine issues of path dependence and the digital divide. We test whether areas that had the best railway access in the 1880s also have best access to new fibre internet infrastructure. Results suggest strong path dependence with respect to topography: people in areas that lacked 19th century rail due to remoteness or terrain are much less likely to have prioritised fibre access and slightly less likely to have current or (planned) future fibre access. Next, we examine path dependence with respect to ethnicity, given that 19th century railways deliberately avoided predominantly M?ori areas. The results suggest weak path dependence: countrywide, M?ori are slightly less likely to get fibre access than other New Zealanders, though are slightly more likely to have access within urban areas. Finally, we examine whether the rollout of fibre is increasing or decreasing the digital divide in access between rich and poor. Results show that those in more deprived areas are the most likely to benefit from fibre access, because these areas also tend to be denser and density was a factor in determining the path of the fibre rollout.

Suggested Citation

  • Eyal Apatov & Nathan Chappell & Arthur Grimes, 2018. "Is internet on the right track? The digital divide, path dependence, and the rollout of New Zealand’s ultra-fast broadband," Working Papers 18_04, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:18_04
    as

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    File URL: http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/18_04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
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    3. Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand, 2013. "Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012," CEPR Discussion Papers 9760, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    6. Paul A. Longley & Alexander D. Singleton, 2009. "Linking Social Deprivation and Digital Exclusion in England," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 46(7), pages 1275-1298, June.
    7. Richard Fabling & Arthur Grimes, 2016. "Picking up speed: Does ultrafast broadband increase firm productivity?," Working Papers 16_22, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Digital divide; path dependence; economic history; inequality; broadband;

    JEL classification:

    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications
    • N97 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Africa; Oceania

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