Rich-Poor Digital Divide

The Economist writes about a paper by two World Bank economists (Carsten Fink and Charles Kenny) which “questions the notion of a worsening digital divide between rich and poor.”

The authors conclude that the divide’s size and importance have been overstated, and that current trends suggest that it is actually shrinking, not growingwhich means policies designed to bridge the digital divide may need rethinking.

There is no doubt that the adoption of ICTs plays a big role in development. But it is a mistake to place too much emphasis on bridging the digital divide by trying to narrow the per-head divide in access. For one thing, the divide is narrowing on its own. More important, when it comes to determining the best use of international aid, money given to narrowing the divide might be better spent elsewhere. In many developing countries, people face far more important challenges than the lack of internet access, namely lack of access to water, food, medical treatment and education. For them, the digital divide is a symptom, rather than the cause, of wider inequality.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.