NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 31, 2005

Is the "digital divide" simply a "cultural divide?" New Census Bureau data show that the poor have cash to spend on computers, but they choose instead to spend it on big-screen TVs, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Little-noticed data still trickling out from the last U.S. census shows that the poor shun PCs and other valuable information gear for entertainment toys. In fact, their spending on color TVs -- including big-screen TVs -- is on par with the rich.


  • More than 34 percent of poor own two color TVs compared with 33 percent of the rich, according to the latest Census Bureau tables; and more than half own two or more color TVs.
  • What's more, fully 1 in 4 poor households have a large-screen TV (versus 2 in 5 wealthy households).
  • Nearly 65 percent of the poor in this country have cable or satellite hooked up to their boob tubes.
  • And a whopping 74 percent have a VCR or DVD player.

Money spent on such toys (to say nothing of Blockbuster film rentals and video games), meanwhile, is not being spent on tools that could lift them out of poverty, says IBD.

According to the census:

  • Less than 20 percent of the poor own a PC, and just 15 percent have access to the Internet and its vast treasure of knowledge.
  • In contrast, 83 percent of upper-income Americans own at least one PC, and 74 percent are online.

As the government's own data bear out, a great many low-income Americans are poor in technology largely because they're poor in judgment - and they're just hurting themselves, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Poor In Judgment," Investor's Business Daily, August 31, 2005.


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