Wealthy, young and educated people more likely to use Net during coronavirus lockdown

In India, 57% of 18-29 year-olds use the Net or a smartphone

Published - April 03, 2020 12:06 am IST - Chennai

India is an outlier compared to other emerging economies for its low proportion of Internet usage/smartphone ownership. | Representational image

India is an outlier compared to other emerging economies for its low proportion of Internet usage/smartphone ownership. | Representational image

Those who are wealthier, younger, and more educated are likely to stay more connected during the coronavirus pandemic as countries institute various degrees of lockdown, new analysis released by the Pew Research Centre suggest.

The results are particularly significant as Internet and smartphone usage is more important than ever now. Surprisingly, India is an outlier compared to other emerging economies for its low proportion of Internet usage/smartphone ownership — 38% relative to, say, Kenya (48%) and Lebanon (89%). China and the countries in India’s South Asian neighbourhood are not included in the list of 34 surveyed countries.

Also read | Data: How much mobile data do Indians use in a month?

In more than 32 of the surveyed countries, at least half the population reported using the Internet occasionally or owning a smartphone. South Korea had the highest percentage of Internet users at 98%, while eight in 10 in Italy had access.

Age divide

Unsurprisingly, younger people in all 34 countries reported greater Internet usage than older people. Indonesia showed the biggest age-wise variation, with 89% of 18-29 year-olds reporting Internet usage or smartphone ownership compared to 24% of 50+ year-olds. Disparities are greater in emerging economies. For many countries, the differences in usage are negligible, if existent, between the 30-49 age group and the 18-29 age group. In India, 57% of 18-29 year-olds use the Internet or a smartphone compared to just 18% of 50+ year-olds.

Twenty-three per cent of those with ‘lower education’ used the Internet in India compared to 69% of those with ‘higher education’. In Israel, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands and South Korea, the difference in usage between the two demographics was less than 10%.

Across the set of 34 countries, those with incomes higher than the national median are more likely to report that they use the Internet than those with incomes below the median. For India these numbers are 51% and 27% respectively. There is a less than 10 point difference between the two income groups in only Australia, Spain, the Netherlands and South Korea.

Phone ownership

In India, 32% reported owning any mobile phone, 35% reported owning a mobile phone that isn’t a smartphone, while 32% reported owning a smartphone. South Korea had 100% mobile phone penetration, with 97% saying they owned a smartphone. The extent of smartphone ownership in a country is positively correlated with higher GDP per capita as per the data.

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