Explaining Caste-based Digital Divide in India

06/30/2021
by   R Vaidehi, et al.
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With the increasing importance of information and communication technologies in access to basic services like education and health, the question of the digital divide based on caste assumes importance in India where large socioeconomic disparities persist between different caste groups. Studies on caste-based digital inequality are still scanty in India. Using nationally representative survey data, this paper analyzes the first-level digital divide (ownership of computer and access to the internet) and the second-level digital divide (individual's skill to use computer and the internet) between the disadvantaged caste group and the others. Further, this paper identifies the caste group-based differences in socioeconomic factors that contribute to the digital divide between these groups using a non-linear decomposition method. The results show that there exists a large first-level and second-level digital divide between the disadvantaged caste groups and others in India. The non-linear decomposition results indicate that the caste-based digital divide in India is rooted in historical socioeconomic deprivation of disadvantaged caste groups. More than half of the caste-based digital gap is attributable to differences in educational attainment and income between the disadvantaged caste groups and others. The findings of this study highlight the urgent need for addressing educational and income inequality between the different caste groups in India in order to bridge the digital divide.

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