Is It Only About Internet Access? An Empirical Test of a Multi-dimensional Digital Divide

  • J. Ramon Gil-Garcia
  • Natalie C. Helbig
  • Enrico Ferro
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4084)


Scholars from different disciplines have recently studied a phenomenon called “the digital divide”. Since many of the new government information technology initiatives are based on Internet technologies and require the use of the Internet by citizens, understanding the digital divide (and consequently, the potential demand) is important for e-government scholars. For some researchers, the divide is not a problem and Internet access is the only relevant determinant of Internet use (access divide). For other researchers, the divide is rooted in more fundamental social differences and opportunities (multi-dimensional divide). Using data from the Piedmont region in Italy, this paper tests these two competing views of the digital divide. Overall, the models based on a multi-dimensional view have greater explanatory power and provide evidence about the relevance of multiple factors affecting both Internet access and Internet use. For instance, females use the Internet for a smaller number of activities than males. Individuals with more formal education and who can speak English use the Internet more. Finally, individuals with more experience using a PC and the Internet itself also use the Internet to perform a broader range of activities.


Personal Computer Internet Access Digital Divide Potential Demand Piedmont Region 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Adriani, F., Becchetti, L.: Does the Digital Divide Matter? The role of ICT in cross-country level and growth estimates: CEIS Tor Vergata (2003)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Benjamin, M.: Re-examining the Digital Divide: Internet and Telecom Consortium. MIT Press, Cambridge (2001)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bimber, B.: Measuring the Gender Gap on the Internet. Social Science Quarterly 81(3) (2000)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Castells, M.: The Internet Galaxy. Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. Oxford University Press, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chin, M.D., Fairlie, R.W.: The determinants of the Global Digital Divide: A Cross-Country Analysis of Computer and Internet Penetration: Economic Growth Center Yale University (2004)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cole, J.I., et al.: The Digital Future Report: USC Center for the Digital Future (2004)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Compaine, B.M. (ed.): The Digital Divide: Facing a Crisis or Creating a Myth? MIT Press, Cambridge (2001)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E.: From the Digital Divide to Digital Inequality: Studying Internet Use As Penetration Increases: Support from the Center for the Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School. Princeton University, Princeton (2001)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ferro, E., Cantamessa, M., Paolucci, E.: Urban vs. Regional Divide: Comparing and Classifying Digital Divide. In: Böhlen, M.H., Gamper, J., Polasek, W., Wimmer, M.A. (eds.) TCGOV 2005. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 3416, pp. 81–90. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hargittai, E.: Second-Level Digital Divide: Differences in People’s Online Skills. First Monday 7(4) (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Helbig, N., Gil-Garcia, J.R., Ferro, E.: Understanding the Complexity of Electronic Government: Implications from the Digital Divide Literature. Paper presented at the Americas Conference of Information Systems 2005, organized by the Association for Information Systems, Omaha, NE, USA, August 11-14 (2005)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hoffman, D.L., Novak, T.P., Schlosser, A.: The Evolution of the Digital Divide: How Gaps in Internet Access Impact Electronic Commerce. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 5(3) (2000)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hollifield, A.C., Donnermeyer, J.F.: Creating demand: influencing information technology diffusion in rural communities. Government Information Quarterly 20, 135–150 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kennedy, T., Wellman, B., Klement, K.: Gendering the Digital Divide. IT & Society 1(5), 72–96 (2003)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mossberger, K., Tolbert, C.J., Stansbury, M.: Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide. Georgetown University Press, Washington (2003)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Norris, P.: Digital divide: civic engagement, information poverty, and the Internet worldwide. Cambridge University Press, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Robinson, J.P., DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E.: New Social Survey Perspectives on the Digital Divide. IT & Society 1(5), 1–22 (2003)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Selwyn, N.: Defining the Digital Divide: Developing a Theoretical Understanding of Inequalities in the Information Age. Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 49, 330–967 (2002)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Servon, L.J.: Bridging the Digital Divide: technology, community, and public policy. Blackwell Publishers Ltd, Oxford (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Warschauer, M.: Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide. MIT Press, Cambridge (2003)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Ramon Gil-Garcia
    • 1
  • Natalie C. Helbig
    • 2
  • Enrico Ferro
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Technology in GovernmentUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and PolicyUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.Instituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB)TorinoItaly

Personalised recommendations