Global Internet Access Continues to Grow, Though Demographic Disparities Remain

April 28, 2020

Gallup Global Internet Access Apr2020Across the globe, almost 6 in 10 (56%) adults have access to the internet. While the percentage of adults with internet access has risen over the past few years, there continues to be a significant gap between those countries with and without widespread internet access, per recent data from Gallup.

Regions like North America (94%), Australia-New-Zealand (93%), the EU (87%) and European countries outside the EU (82%) all have a high degree of internet access among adults, whether it be via mobiles, computers or other devices. However, there is a stark difference between these regions compared to those and some regions housing lesser-developed economies. For example, while more than half (55%) of adults in Southeast Asia report having access to the internet, the region falls toward the bottom of the list, only above sub-Saharan Africa (31%) and South Asia (21%).

Separate research from the Pew Research Institute shows that other factors such as age, education level and income also affect internet access to considerable degrees.

For example, in Indonesia, which has a relatively low rate of internet usage, younger adults are far more likely to use the internet than older adults, with 89% of 18-29-year-olds using the internet compared to 58% of 30-49-year-olds and 24% of adults 50+. By contrast, in the US, where 90% of adults use the internet, the gap is narrower, with nearly all adults between the ages of 18-49 using the internet versus 84% of those 50 and older.

When sorting by education level, the gap is also narrow in the US compared to other countries. A full 99% of Americans with higher educational attainment levels report using the internet or owning a smartphone, while 87% with a lower education level say the same. But, in Nigeria, the chasm is much wider. Only 13% of adults with lower educational attainment levels use the internet, compared to almost three-quarters (73%) of adults who have attained a higher level of education.

Again, while Americans in a lower income bracket (87%) are less likely to use the internet or own a smartphone than those with a higher income (97%), the difference is slight compared to a country like Slovakia, where only one-third (34%) of lower-income citizens use the internet versus 82% with higher incomes.

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