Has the digital divide been reversed? – Evidence from five EU countries

Authors
Smaranda Pantea, Bertin Martens

Keywords
Internet use, time allocation, leisure

Abstract
This paper examines whether there is a digital divide in the use of the internet in general and of specific websites (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 income-based digital divide in internet use at home has been reversed. Low-income internet users spend more time on the internet at home than high-income users on all types of websites. There is some evidence of an education-based digital divide in the use of human capital and goods & services websites. Tertiary education has a negative effect on time spent on leisure websites and a positive effect on time spent on human capital and goods & services websites. Using quantile regressions, we find that the negative effect of income and the positive effect of education for human capital and goods & services websites hold for the entire conditional distribution of these online activities. Moreover, these effects are stronger for more intensive internet users. We discuss several possible explanations for these results.

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