TELEPHONE AND COMPUTER EQUIPMENT

The diffusion of information technologies is measured each year in France by the Crédoc (Research Center for the study and observation of living conditions) and INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies). Since the 90s, under the direction of the sociologist Régis Bigot, 2,000 people, randomly selected on the basis of quotas representative of the population, meet each year, face to face, a detailed questionnaire on equipment (fixed and mobile telephony, computer, Internet, access to television) and, more recently, the use they make of it. If door to door is required, it is that 17% of the population, against 5% ten years ago, no longer has a fixed telephone, because of the competition of the mobile, for which it does not does not exist systematic directory. The data collected is both reliable and incomplete, since, for example, the homeless (which IN SEE estimated at about 80,000 in 2001) are not taken into account.

This graph illustrates the evolution of inequalities in home computer equipment. Between 2000 and 2005, inequalities were thus halved, with the Gini coefficient increasing from 40% to 21%.

An important phenomenon, according to Régis Bigot: spending on ICT, which with 4% still occupies only a modest part of the total household budget, however, increases three times faster than those of health, which represented until now the strongest annual growth. And the diffusion of broadband connections is now faster than was the time of television. But the digital divide, especially concerning access to a personal computer and the Internet, remains important: in 2006, summarizes the Crédoc, 82% of senior executives, 74% of individuals living in a household with incomes over 3 100 euros monthly and 73% of Higher education graduates were connected, compared to 6% of over 70s, 12% of non-graduates, 22% of people living in a household earning less than 900 euros a month, or 38% of workers. However, some catching up takes place in favor of the less favored categories. Indeed, always about the Internet, a relative indicator, the Gini coefficient*, the higher the inequalities are high (0% indicates a strict equality, 100% the monopoly of a single group) was halved, from 40% to 21% (all factors combined) between 1999 and 2005. The microcomputer (16%) or mobile phone (7.5% by income, but 14.5% by age), are comparatively more egalitarian.

The effort undertaken since 2004 to extend broadband to the entire territory, combined with lower prices, partly explains this development. According to economist Pierre Montagnier of the OECD, the delay by France vis-à-vis all developed countries, in terms of individual computer equipment, due in part to the success of the old Minitel, fills slowly. Even if, today, broadband connection rates remain lower than those of neighboring countries: 50% in Belgium, around 70% in Canada and the United Kingdom, compared to 43% for us. Will the differences between the different social categories continue to shrink to see, as in Korea, nine households out of ten linked to the Web? Nothing allows to assert it, underlines Régis Bigot, even if, “ten years ago, we could not predict this massification . “Pierre Montagnier notes that in most countries except Sweden and Finland, despite declining Gini coefficients across all categories, the gaps are However, the gap between the highest and lowest incomes in terms of computer equipment and Internet connection

Chart showing the rate of access to the Internet at home, according to social-professional categories. (82%) and workers (38%) or retirees (14%)

The more or less enriching nature of individual practices on the Internet remains difficult to measure. But by asking users about their activities (frequency and duration, network games, e-mail, administration …), the Crédoc calculated, in 2004, an inequality indicator that was twice as low for use (12%) as equipment itself (24%). In other words, once one is connected to the Web, the social or cultural level does not condition a mode of use (for example, games) rather than another.”which requires, highlights the report , strong skills “. You must know how to write a text, select photos, put them online, which implies an active approach to the tool. A data that surprised the researcher. Is the web a real democratization? ” Before the Internet, a tiny proportion of individuals, professional journalists, produced the news and they no longer have the monopoly of speaking out, ” he says. But he joins his colleague Pierre Montagnier in his analysis: the public authorities, concerned mainly to see equip a growing part of the population, do not question today much about the qualitative contribution of ICT.

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