Report: Income, not ethnicity, determines access
- By Daniel Keegan
- Aug 04, 2000
As income levels among ethnic groups vary from state to state, so does the
width of the digital divide, a Forrester Research Inc.
The report compares the width of the divide between the technology haves
and have-nots, or the divide between Caucasians and the largest ethnic minority
in each state, mostly Hispanics and African Americans. The study found that
the divide in southern states is the widest.
Forrester found three categories of states:
* Greatly divided: 16 states, mostly in the South. Internet adoption by
the state's largest minority (either African Americans or Hispanics), trails
Caucasians by a wider margin the U.S. average.
* Divided: 14 states, minority populations are around the U.S. average of
* Narrowly divided: African Americans and Hispanics favor the best in these
nine states, mostly east of the Mississippi River.
(The remaining 11 states had insufficient minority population to be included
in the study.)
The study determined "that the digital divide is not driven by ethnicity
but by disparities in each group's income, age, technology optimism and
The study found that seven of the 10 states with the lowest median incomes
for African Americans have a large digital divide. And the median income
for Hispanics in deeply divided states is $3,000 below the $39,000 national
average, but in narrowly divided states, it is $4,000 above the national
To close the gap, the report suggests that policy-makers work to subsidize
Internet access in schools, libraries and workplaces since many minorities
access the Internet outside their homes.
It also says that federal funds should be directed at states with the largest
divides. The report notes that in Texas and Tennessee, home to presidential
candidates George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, African Americans
lag behind Caucasians by some of the widest margins. In Texas, they lag
by 14 percent, and in Tennessee, by 16 percent.
"Presidential candidates Bush and Gore should check out their own backyards
before touring the country to speak out against the digital divide," the
Of thousands of surveys that were sent out in January for the report, 80,000
were returned nationwide and comprise the results.