The digital divide in the UK and Europe (statistics)

I shared some statistics on the ‘digital divide’ during yesterday’s Health Care Social Media Europe tweet chat and, asked for sources, this post is my >140 response.

The UK statistic – that 9 million people have never gone online – came from The Connected Kingdom report Google commissioned last year from Boston Consulting Group.

It’s worth quoting at length from what the report has to say on the UK’s digital divide.

Access to the Internet is not universal in the United Kingdom. One-fifth of the adult population – around 9 million people – have never gone online. These people tend to live in rural areas at a distance from London. Although non-users are concentrated in the lower income groups, cost is only the fourth most-cited explanation for not using the Internet, after lack of a reason to go online, lack of skills and lack of desire.

About 60% of those aged 65 or older have never used the Internet. Nearly two-thirds of non-users are in this age group. Progress, however, is being made. More than half of the 1.9 million new Internet users over the past year were aged 50 or older. On of the challenges for the United Kingdom – and for all nations – is to bring this final fifth of the population into the Internet age.

For more information see The Connected Kingdom website, where the report is available for download (see page eight).

Meanwhile, the European statistics came via the European Commission’s Digital Agenda:

Over half of Europeans (250 million) use the internet every day, but another 30% have never used it. Everyone, young and old, irrespective of social background, is entitled to the knowledge and skills they need to be part of the digital era since commerce, public, social and health services, learning and political life is increasingly moving online.

See Commission outlines action plan to boost Europe’s prosperity and well-being.

The figures are a stark reminder that however rapid the pace of online innovation seems, there are huge swathes of the population that currently miss out.


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