Although information and communication technologies (ICT) have diffused into all economic and private sectors during the last decade, large disparities still exist. The disparities between individuals with regard to their access and use of new technologies are facets of the so-called digital divide. Until today, research on the digital divide has mainly focused on the access decision of individuals, that is on gaps between those who do and those who do not have access to ICT (first-level digital divide), and less on differences in usage patterns (second-level digital divide). In this paper, we investigate inequalities in internet use behaviour for the year 2004. Our analysis is based on the German ALLBUS data set which allows us to consider specific individual attitudes and preferences towards ICT. We focus on two different aspects: First, we estimate the impact of socio-economic factors on the internet access decision (first-level digital divide). Second, we analyse the determinants of the intensity of internet use and the frequency of various internet activities, such as downloading from the internet and creating web pages (second-level digital divide). Comparing the determinants of the first- and the second-level digital divide, our empirical results show two important patterns: First, socio-economic characteristics, like education, age and migration explain inequalities in internet access, while for the second-level digital divide, socio-economic factors hardly seem to play a role. Second, preferences and attitudes regarding new technologies as well as peer effects turn out to be important for both.
Coneus, Katja and Katrin Schleife (2010), Online But Still Divided - Inequality in Private Internet Use in Germany, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 10-042, Mannheim. Download