Middle and upper-class African-Americans and Hispanics are narrowing the digital divide, according to a new study conducted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
According to the report, 94 percent of Blacks and 98 percent of Hispanics who possess a college degree are online, and college-educated minority Americans who earn over $50,000, are signing up for broadband Internet faster than any other group in the U.S.
The study found that 58 percent of Hispanics and 69 percent of African-Americans now regularly use the Internet, while 79 percent of Whites are frequent users of the Web. Also, broadband adoption has risen in African-American homes to 59 percent, up from the 46 percent reported by a separate study last year.
However, the study also found that lower-income, older and less educated Blacks and Hispanics are falling behind in Web use, with only a third or less of those groups regularly using the Internet.
“The news that those which have the means are starting to regularly use the Internet for everyday activities is promising because it narrows the digital divide at that level,” Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, Vice President and Director of the Joint Center Media and Technology Institute said in a press release. “In today’s economy, however, with more low-income people needing to find work and government support to keep their heads above water, their access to the Internet is critical to moving them out of poverty.”
While the study claimed that Internet usage carries social and economic gains for minorities, it nevertheless indicated that Americans who have the most to gain from the Internet are unable to access it to halt the cycles of poverty, isolation, and illiteracy.
“There is a ‘tale of two cities’ element in our research as poorer and less educated people—who perhaps can benefit most from use of the Internet—are still much less likely to be online. This should continue to be a key issue for our policymakers as we invest in broadband improvements across the nation,” Turner-Lee said.
The Washington, D.C.-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is a non-profit think tank which focuses research on issues of concern to African-American and other minority communities.