Exploring the Divide in the Digital Divide: The Effect of Race/Ethnicity on Computer Ownership in United States, 1984 – 2003

Salvador Rivas, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Previous studies that describe the existence and dimensions of the digital divide call attention to the potential negative consequences of not having access to a computer and not being online. Missing from these studies, however, is a more thorough investigation of how the effect of race/ethnicity on computer ownership is mediated by associated factors and how these effects have changed across time. The current study attempts to fill these gaps. Using Current Population Survey data, from 1984 to 2003, I estimate a series of logistic regression models on computer ownership at the household level. After controlling for demographic, household composition, and socioeconomic variables, the gap between Black and Hispanic households in relation to White households remains statistically significant. For Asian households, the racial effect is explained by the variables in the models. The implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions are made for future research.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture