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Digital Divide¡¯ Causes Social Inequality

Posted July. 11, 2000 14:42,   


The ¡®Digital divide¡¯ has appeared as a new crucial social issue following the economic and information imbalance.

This new issue was a top agenda at a recent symposium on the subject ¡°Quality of Life in the Cyber Era, in which top experts in the field of philosophy, political science, sociology, economics and mass communication. The forum was sponsored by the Asan Social Welfare Foundation.

Prof. Lim Hyun-Jin of sociology at Seoul National University said in his paper on ¡°Development of Digital Economy and Social Inequality¡¯¡¯ that the digital divide has been continuously expanding in the United States.

Quoting a U.S. government¡¯s report, Lim pointed out that the degree of access to computer at the high-income urban households (more than $75,000 a year) in the U.S. is 20 times that of the lowest earning households ($5,000 a year). The possession of computers by the former is nine times the latter.

The gap in the ratio of access to Internet between the highest and the lowest groups in terms of education level between the 1997-1998 period rose by 25 percent, and that between those in terms of income level increased by 29 percent.

In case of Korea, which records the highest annual growth rate in knowledge-based industry among OECD countries, the gap in Internet use ratio between the highest earning groups and the lowest rose to 25.8 percent from 10.2 percent between the period of 1998 and 1999.

Prof. Lim claimed, ¡°In society of knowledge and informatization the digital divide will become the major factor causing the social inequality.¡¯¡¯ He called for a responsible intervention by the government in this problem.