European Journal of Ageing

, 5:233

Internet use and the digital divide in the English longitudinal study of ageing

Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s10433-008-0083-7

Cite this article as:
Gilleard, C. & Higgs, P. Eur J Ageing (2008) 5: 233. doi:10.1007/s10433-008-0083-7


This paper examines the digital divide in Internet use in later life. We hypothesise that the differential diffusion of domestic information and communication technologies between pre- and post-Second World War cohorts is primarily responsible for this divide rather than either age-associated structural inequalities or age-related intrinsic features of mental and/or physical infirmity. Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing we show that age/cohort differences in Internet use persist after income, education, employment and health status are controlled for. However, when engagement with domestic information and communication technology and cultural activities are taken into account, age/cohort influences on Internet use decline. These contingent ‘age/cohort’ effects suggest that ‘generational’ rather than ‘structural’ or ‘stage of life’ influences may be more salient explanations of the (age-based) digital divide.


InternetDigital divideAge/cohort

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Behavioural and Social Sciences in MedicineUniversity College LondonLondonUK