FACT SHEET: Racial Divide Continues to Grow
FALLING THROUGH THE NET: DEFINING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE, July 1999
This report on the telecommunications and information technology gap in America provides comprehensive data on the level of access by Americans to telephones, computers, and the Internet. It includes valuable information about where Americans are gaining access, what they are doing with their online connections, and provides trendline information since 1984.
According to the report, the number of Americans accessing the Internet has grown rapidly in the last year; yet, in the midst of this general expansion, the "digital divide" between information "haves" and "have nots" continues to widen.
Race or ethnic origin is a likely factor in determining who has access to computers and the Internet. Americans today are accessing the Internet with more regularity, and Black and Hispanic households are twice as likely to own computers today as they were in 1994. Yet, many race or origin groups are losing ground in computer and Internet connectivity when compared to the progress of Whites and those of Asian/Pacific Island descent. When holding income constant, Black and Hispanic households are still far less likely to have Internet access. Of all race or origin groups, households of Asian/Pacific descent have a clear lead in computer penetration and Internet access rates.
The "digital divide" between Whites and most minorities continues to grow. There are signs, however, that higher incomes are helping to narrow and could eventually close the gap. Eventually, falling prices may allow a greater number of people--regardless of race--to purchase computers and connect to the Internet. Waiting for prices to fall, however, is a long-term solution to the racial divide. In the short-term, community access centers (such as schools, public libraries, and community centers) can help to narrow the racial connectivity divide.
Note: Press Contact: For Report Details, contact: Mary Hanley, (202) 482-2075 Kelly Levy, (202)482-1880 www.ntia.doc.gov