California's Digital Divide
- Broadband access is up significantly since 2008.
A large majority of Californians—73%—have a broadband Internet connection at home, up sharply from 55% in 2008. Broadband access at home is 7 points higher in California than in the nation as a whole: Nationwide, 66% of adults report having broadband (Pew Internet & American Life Project). Currently, 87% of Californians use the Internet (up from 70% in 2008), compared to 85% of adults nationwide.
- The digital divide is closing, but demographic differences in access are striking.
Home broadband access among Latinos has increased sharply since 2008 (from 34% to 58%), but other racial/ethnic groups are still much more likely to use broadband: whites (84%), Asians (76%), and blacks (74%). Still, the Latino-white gap has narrowed 8 points, while the divide between Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups has halved since 2008. And while broadband access among non-citizens has increased 28 points since 2008 (from 23% to 51%), U.S.-born residents (82%) and naturalized citizens (64%) are still more likely to report broadband access. Despite this gap, the divide between U.S-born residents and non-citizens has narrowed by 13 points since 2008. Other demographic trends show that broadband access is higher among college graduates (91%) and those with some college education (81%) than among less educated Californians (56%). Similarly, broadband access is higher among adults with household incomes of $80,000 or more (93%) and among those who earn between $40,000 and $80,000 (80%) than among less affluent Californians (60%). Broadband access is also more prevalent among residents in Orange/San Diego Counties (78%, up 20 points since 2008) and in the San Francisco Bay Area (78%, up 13 points) than in the Central Valley (71%, up 18), the Inland Empire (71%, up 15), and Los Angeles (69%, up 21).
- Differences exist even across Latino subgroups.
While broadband access among Latinos has increased 24 points since 2008, disparities among Latinos persist. Some Latino subgroups are similar to other racial/ethnic groups in their access to broadband. For example, relatively high rates of access are evident among those who are U.S. born (76%), prefer to speak English (75%), and earn at least $40,000 per year (75%). But other Latino subgroups still lag far behind, such as those who are foreign born (48%), prefer to speak Spanish (46%), and earn under $40,000 (50%).
- Older residents and those with disabilities lag behind.
Older Californians are less likely than younger residents to report broadband or Internet use. Those age 55 and older are the least likely to report using this technology (63% broadband, 76% Internet) compared to those in the 35–54 age group (74% broadband, 89% Internet) and the 18–34 age group (82% broadband, 96% Internet). Not every adult with a disability is able to participate in telephone surveys. Among those in our surveys who do report a disability, handicap, or chronic disease, or who have difficulty seeing, hearing, talking, or walking, 56% report they have broadband access, compared to 77% without a disability. Residents with disabilities are also far less likely than others to report Internet use (76% vs. 90%).
- Younger, more educated, and wealthier adults are more likely to access the Internet with a cell phone.
Sixty percent of adults use a cell phone to access the Internet, a 41-point increase since 2008 (19% 2008, 60% today). Residents ages 18 to 34 are far more likely than adults age 55 and older to use a cell phone to go online (78% vs. 37%). Using a cell phone to access the Internet is highest among blacks (72%), followed by whites (62%), Latinos (57%), and Asians (56%). The percentage of adults using cell phones to connect to the Internet increases sharply with education and is far higher among those with household incomes of $80,000 or more than among less affluent Californians.
Sources: PPIC Statewide Surveys, June 2008 (2,503 adults), June 2009 (2,502 adults), July 2010 (2,502 adults), June 2011 (2,502 adults), July 2012 (2,500). The margin of error for all adults in 2012 is ±2.9%; the margin of error for subgroups is larger. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.
Supported with funding from the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF).
June 2008, June 2009, June 2011 surveys were supported with funding from the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF)