February 9, 2011 / 8:26 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. Latinos trail in the digital divide: study

PHOENIX (Reuters Life!) - Latinos are the United States’ fastest growing minority, but they trail in the digital divide because of lower income and educational levels, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that fewer Hispanics than either white or black Americans went online last year, owned a cell phone or had broadband access to the Internet at home.

The study, dubbed “Latinos and Digital Technology, 2010,” drew on two national telephone surveys carried out in August and September of last year.

It found that just under two thirds of adult Hispanics — 65 percent — went online in 2010, compared to 66 percent of black adults, and 77 percent of white adults.

Meanwhile, just 45 percent of Latinos used broadband to access the Internet from home, compared to 52 percent of black Americans, and 65 percent of whites.

Latinos also trailed in cell phone ownership, the survey found, with just over three quarters — 76 percent — owning a mobile phone, compared to 79 percent for blacks and 85 percent for whites.

The disparity in access to digital technology stemmed from the lower average levels of income and education for Hispanics, compared to whites, the report found.

“Controlling for these factors, the differences in Internet use, home broadband access and cell phone use between Hispanics and whites disappear,” it said.

“In other words, Hispanics and whites who have similar socioeconomic characteristics have similar usage patterns for these technologies.” it added.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are around 45 million Hispanics in the United States, about double the number 20 years ago.

According to Census Bureau projections, ethnic and racial minorities in the United States are tipped to become the majority by 2050, by which time nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Latino.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Jerry Norton

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