- Year: 2000
- Author: Lloyd, R; Hellwig, O
- Publisher: National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra
- Published Location: Canberra, ACT
- ISBN: 0858898411
- Country: Australia
Access to and use of the Internet and other telecommunications services are rapidly becoming an increasingly common and critical part of commerce, education and social participation. Groups with little opportunity to participate in the services provided by new telecommunications technology will be increasingly disadvantaged socially and economically. The concept of a digital divide is being used to describe disparities in the use of the Internet and new telecommunications services across different social groups. In Australia the debate has taken a regional focus because of differences in metropolitan and regional rates of access. Government policies have focused on supply-side issues such as the quality and cost of supply in regional Australia. However, evidence from overseas studies suggests that sociodemographic factors may also influence access to new technology. This study explores the social and economic characteristics of Australians with different levels of access to and use of communications services. The results show that a large proportion of Australians do not participate in the knowledge economy not because of where they live, but because of their economic and social circumstances. The most important driver of Internet access is educational qualification, followed by income. After accounting for other factors, region and State of residence by themselves do not explain differences in Internet take-up rates. This result suggests that supply-side policy solutions will not be sufficient to overcome the digital divide.