California’s Digital Divide
- Broadband access is up significantly since 2008.
A large majority of Californians—69%—have a broadband Internet connection at home, up sharply from 55% in 2008. Broadband access at home in California is similar to the nation as a whole: nationwide, 70% of adults report having broadband (Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project). Overall, 86% of Californians currently use the Internet (up from 70% in 2008), compared to 85% of adults nationwide.
- The digital divide is closing, but striking demographic differences persist.
Broadband access among Latinos has increased 18 points since 2008, but Latinos (52%) are still much less likely to use broadband than blacks (71%), Asians (75%), and whites (81%). Broadband access among noncitizens has increased 20 points since 2008 (from 23% to 43%), and the divide between noncitizens and the U.S.-born has narrowed by 8 points. But U.S.-born residents (79%) and naturalized citizens (62%) are still much more likely than noncitizens to report broadband access. Broadband access is higher among college graduates (88%) and those with some college education (83%) than among less-educated Californians (47%)—and connectivity among the less educated dropped 9 points since 2012 (56%). Similarly, access is higher among adults with household incomes of $80,000 or more (92%) and among those who earn between $40,000 and $80,000 (84%) than among less-affluent Californians (53%). Broadband access is also more prevalent among residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (80% today, 65% in 2008) and in Orange/San Diego (77% today, 58% in 2008) than in the Central Valley (60% today, 53% in 2008—but down 11 points from 2012), the Inland Empire (68% today, 56% in 2008), and Los Angeles (64% today, 48% in 2008).
- Latino Internet access disparities have narrowed but still exist—even across Latino subgroups.
The Latino-white access gap has narrowed only 5 points since 2008, but Latinos have made greater gains in relation to other racial/ethnic groups: the divide has narrowed 13 points with blacks and 10 points with Asians. Some Latino subgroups are similar to other racial/ethnic groups in their access to broadband. For example, there are relatively high rates of access among Latinos who are U.S. born (74%), prefer to speak English (78%), or earn at least $40,000 per year (81%). But other Latino subgroups still lag far behind, including those who are foreign born (35%), prefer to speak Spanish (28%), or earn less than $40,000 (45%).
- Older residents and those with disabilities lag behind.
Older Californians are less likely than younger residents to have a broadband connection at home. Those who are age 55 and older are the least likely to have broadband access (63%) compared to those in the 35–54 age group (71%) and the 18–34 age group (74%). 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 say they have difficulty seeing, hearing, talking, or walking, 56% report they have broadband access (up 20 points since 2008), compared to 72% of those without a disability.
- Younger, more-educated, and wealthier adults are more likely to access the Internet with a cell phone.
Fifty-six percent of adults use a cell phone to access the Internet, a 37-point increase since 2008 (19% 2008, 56% today). Residents age 18 to 34 are far more likely than adults age 55 and older to use a cell phone to go online (78% compared to 30%). Use of a cell phone to access the Internet is highest among blacks (73%), followed by whites (59%), Asians (55%), and Latinos (52%). The percentage of adults using cell phones to connect to the Internet increases with education and is far higher among those with household incomes of $80,000 or more (76%) than among less-affluent Californians (46%).
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), June 2013 (2,502). The margin of error for all adults in 2013 is ±2.9%; the margin of error for subgroups is larger. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.