The Internet and Poverty: Opening the Black Box

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Type of work: Report

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Abstract:

Study in Latin America shows that Internet connectivity can help alleviate poverty, but that complementary investments in human capital are needed to realize the full potential of broadband.

A study undertaken by DIRSI, found that that the impact of broadband access on economic development is positive but more modest than previously estimated – as much as five times lower than the more optimistic estimations. Further, the study found that connecting schools to the Internet has a very modest impact on student performance in the short-term. According to the study’s conclusions, “the Internet, like other ICTs, can be a powerful tool to achieve many development goals, including poverty alleviation, but this potential will not be realized unless human capital investments are properly articulated with connectivity initiatives”. The study used large household and school-based surveys as well as personal interviews to explore the links between broadband adoption and income, employment and educational achievement in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.