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Abstract:

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CEP Discussion Paper
Give PC's a Chance: Personal Computer Ownership and the Digital Divide in the United States and Great Britain
John Schmitt and Jonathan Wadsworth April 2002
Paper No' CEPDP0526:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J6


Tags: inequality; personal computers

This paper summarizes inequalities in PC ownership using data from the US Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) and the British General Household Survey (GHS) for the period 1984-98. Between 1988 and 1994, British households were more likely than US households to own a personal computer (PC). After 1994, however, US PC ownership rates accelerated rapidly, pushing the United States ahead of Britain. Differences in computer ownership rates are however much larger within the two countries, measured by income, education, age, family status, and race. Both the United States and Britain show large and growing inequality in PC ownership over the 1980s and 1990s. Analysis of ownership patterns of four other household consumer durables suggests that there may be significant limitations to relying solely on the market to eradicate PC inequality quickly.