NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is The "Digital Divide" Narrowing?

May 4, 2000

Is there a growing "digital divide" in the United States separating those who use the Internet by ethnic group and income levels? The answer may depend on which ethnic groups and which web-based activities one is talking about. For instance, Hispanic Americans are embracing e-commerce.

  • A Hispanic Business/Zogby International survey of 1,155 adults nationwide found that almost one-half (49 percent) of Hispanics had made an online purchase in the last three months, compared to a little over a third (34.7 percent) of Anglos and a little less than a third (31.3 percent) of African Americans.
  • Hispanics spent more for online purchases, on average, than other groups -- about 38 percent of Hispanics spent more than $100, compared to 16 percent of Anglos, 11 percent of Asians and 6 percent of African-Americans.
  • Among Internet-ready U.S. Hispanic households, an poll found 76 percent had made purchases online, 62 percent within the last 12 months.

A recent U.S. Commerce Department study found about 26 percent of Hispanic households in the U.S. owned a computer in 1998 -- double the precentage from four years earlier. However, the disparity in computer ownership largely disappears at higher income levels. For example, about 80 percent of all households with an annual income greater than $75,000 owned a computer, compared with 75 percent of Hispanic households at that income level.

Source: Jeff D. Vitucci and Hillary Leon, "Wired Generation," Hispanic Business, May 2000.

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