Measuring Inclusion and Diffusion in Europe
Edited by Paolo Guerrieri and Sara Bentivegna
Chapter 3: A metrics for digital development
3.1 THE EUROPEAN DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT INDEX One of the earliest studies on factors affecting the variation in Internet connectivity highlighted that ‘despite its overarching importance [of the Internet], little attention has been devoted to the study of its spread, especially on an international level. Given the potential wide-ranging effects of the technology, the level of diffusion in a country can influence the degree to which a country can hold its place in the global economy’ (Hargittai, 1999a, p. 702). Many things have changed since the days in which Hargittai denounced the lack of attention to these issues, one of them certainly being the renewed interest in the diffusion and adoption of the Internet. Today, in fact, there is even a need to introduce order into the rich and complex literature which embraces different scopes of analysis, types of data and variables used. With reference to this confusion resulting from the multitude and inequality of approaches, Howard et al. (2009) claim that there is a ‘research divide on the digital divide’. One of the richest strands is certainly that which analyses developed and developing countries. Among the numerous studies adopting the global approach, that conducted by Norris (2001) on 179 countries using cross-sectional data, is worthy of note. Taking as a dependent variable the proportion of the population online, Norris considers economic factors as the most relevant in predicting differences in access to the information society. According to Norris, ‘economic development, measured by per capita GDP, was consistently important across all...
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