Reevaluating the Global Digital Divide: Socio-Demographic and Conflict Barriers to the Internet Revolution
Work data:ISSN: 1475-682X
Type of work: Article (academic)
The Global Digital Divide (GDD) in Internet and related forms of information technologies has gained some press and scholarly attention in recent years. Although the contours and causes of Internet diffusion around the globe are now better understood, a number of questions and avenues remain unanswered or unexplored, particularly concerning the role of socio-demographic structures and even conflict processes on Internet diffusion. This study addresses the current state of the digital divide and sheds new light on the barriers that continue to inhibit developing nations’ lag with the West in Internet connectivity. Focusing on a large sample of the world’s developing nations, this project finds that although the GDD is narrowing, the gap is still large and that specific demographic properties (high fertility) and conflict processes threaten to keep many societies in the periphery of cyberspace. The authors also find that urban agglomerations work to amplify Internet demand over time and that maturing economies may no longer require democratization as a pathway to Internet development. Implications of these findings and future directions of research are briefly discussed.