Because every American
should have access
to broadband Internet.

The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet - from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.

The Podium

Tuesday, July 14

IIA Guest Blog: Jonathan Orszag


Broadband Adoption: New Study Sheds Additional Light on Existing Survey Findings

Our study of the consumer benefits from home broadband connectivity provides a detailed breakdown of the demographic characteristics of home broadband users. It is helpful to compare our results, based on roughly 30,000 households per year across the top 100 metropolitan regions across the United States, over the period 2005 through 2008, with the results of the periodic surveys of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project (see here and here). The Pew results are based on telephone surveys of 2,253 adults in April 2009, and 2,251 adults in April-May 2008.

The results are broadly similar. The population subgroups that have below average broadband adoption rates are:

Low-income Americans: According to the Pew surveys, respondents living in households with annual household income of $20,000 or less saw broadband adoption grow from 25 to 35% between 2008 and 2009. Our comparable 2008 figure for households with annual household income of $25,000 or less was 41%.

Senior citizens: Broadband adoption grew from 19 to 30% among adults ages 65 or older. Our comparable 2008 figure was 43%, statistically significantly lower than boomers (ages 45-64) at 69%, and younger households at 81-84%.

High-school graduates: Among adults whose highest level of education is a high school degree, adoption grew from 40 to 52%. Our comparable 2008 figure was 38% for adults with less than a high school diploma.

African Americans: Broadband adoption grew at a below average rate, increasing from 43 to 46%. Our comparable 2008 figure was 57%, statistically significantly lower than Latino/Hispanics at 74% and whites/Caucasians at 70%.

What’s new in our findings on this topic?

Given our larger sample size for each year, we separately break out Asians (South and South-East Asians) as a distinct race/ethnicity subgroup: 82% of Asians had adopted broadband by 2008.

For employment, we find that the likelihood of adoption increases with employment, with retired households being below average, and with subsequent higher levels of connectivity for the unemployed and part-time employed, and the highest levels of adoption by the full-time employed. Interestingly, we also find that people appear unwilling to cut their broadband even when they lose their jobs, based on their need for connectivity. This is reflected in the significant jump upwards in the use of job board and career information sites during the economic downturn.

Finally, we provide important comparisons between patterns of adoption and patterns of valuation of home broadband.

The full Orszag-Willig-Dutz study, “The Substantial Consumer Benefits of Broadband Connectivity for U.S. Households” is available here (PDF).


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