New index highlights digital divide across US counties

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Between 2010 and 2015, job and establishment growth was substantially lower in U.S. counties where broadband is less available and technologies are less likely to be adopted, according to new research from the Purdue Center for Regional Development. To measure county-level digital divide, authors from the center developed the Digital Divide Index (DDI), which factors in demographics, jobs, and other establishment trends in the U.S. Notably, the index is comprised of two parts to make it more useful to policymakers and practitioners: an infrastructure score and an adoption score. Each of these scores are comprised of four measures as a way to differentiate between the mere presence of broadband in a community and factors that may predict its adoption. The authors suggest that broadband efforts should be rooted in a local context; for some areas, it may make more sense to improve broadband infrastructure, while for others, more effort should be placed on increasing digital literacy or exposure to technological benefits. The authors conclude by recommending economic and community development strategies target local entrepreneurs and small businesses more deliberately as it relates to the digital economy.

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