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Title: How Broad is Broadband? An Economic Analysis on the Digital Divide Through a Case Study of U.S. Cities
Authors: Zhou, Katie
Advisors: Bhatt, Swati
Department: Economics
Certificate Program: Applications of Computing Program
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: It's become clear in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that the internet has become a lifeline for the U.S. population. During a time when one's ability to stay home and healthy is determined by the ability to access resources such as Zoom, telehealth, and news from home -- all via the internet -- the digital inequality has become exacerbated more than ever. This study takes a novel perspective to addressing the digital divide by focusing on three cities -- Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit -- to explore the factors and consequences of their low broadband adoption rates. The primary OLS regression corroborates the prediction that greater broadband accessibility, measured by the number of providers servicing an area, correlates to increased adoption. In evaluating what may affect broadband accessibility, it was exposed that the number of providers can be influenced by the income levels of an area. This in particular is the case for Cleveland and Detroit, where providers had been accused of digital redlining in 2017. The consequences of broadband adoption were tested through its effect on household income and educational attainment. The results proved to be more statistically significant when broadband adoption was bifurcated into mobile-only and fixed broadband adoption, revealing that increased mobile-only broadband adoption correlates to more households obtaining lower income and education. The findings from these three U.S. cities can be extrapolated to more broadly outline implications for bridging the gap in the digital divide.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2020

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