Universität Zürich

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Modeling the second-level digital divide: A five-country study of social differences in Internet use


Moritz Büchi /

Just, Natascha /

Michael Latzer

In: New Media & Society, 18 (11), 2703-2722, doi: 10.1177/1461444815604154.

Based on representative surveys on Internet use, this article advances comparative research on the second-level digital divide by modeling Internet usage disparities for five countries with narrowing access gaps. Four core Internet usage types are constructed and predicted by sociodemographic variables in a structural model. Overall, the findings confirm the recently identified shift in the digital divide from access to usage in five further countries. Results show that sociodemographics alone account for up to half of the variance in usage in these high-penetration countries, with age being the strongest predictor. Measurement invariance tests indicate that a direct comparison is only valid between three of the five countries explored. Methodologically, this points to the indispensability of such tests for unbiased comparative research.