Income and the Internet: How Do They Relate?

In late November the Pew Internet and American Life Project released the finding of their research which had to do with how Internet is used throughout American households. I found the results of this study really thought provoking but also felt like some of the conclusions seemed backwards of the way I think about Internet usage.

The research found that Internet usage and income had a profound connection in that those with lower income used the Internet in different ways and for the most part, less often and less intensely (meaning they do less things on the Internet than higher income families).

I found this pretty interesting but I’m not so sure the research isn’t backwards in its findings. Let me explain:

The research showed that 93% of households with income higher than $75,000 a year have broadband at home while 85% of those with an annual income of less than $75,000 do and furthermore only 64% of those who earn less than $50,000 have broadband at home.

With my personal experience using broadband and a large chunk of my income either having been created via connections made on the Internet that could have never happened without it or my income coming directly from the Internet itself (blog writing, freelancing, consulting) I lean towards my own conclusion that maybe these households with lower income have lower income because they don’t have and make use of broadband and all that is available on the Internet.

The next bit of research shows that the households with lower income are less likely to go on the Internet multiple times per day both at work and home by a large percentage.

What that tells me is that again some of the higher income households most likely make money online and to keep up with their businesses they have to get on the Internet to check email, sort out sales, do customer service or create their product. The more I am online each day, the more money I make from my online activities which drives me to get online as often as I can.

Another thing that comes to mind with this piece of research is that the lower income households are most likely not involved in the tech industry or any industry that makes large use of the Internet for their day to day operations. Industries that don’t make use of technology are typically blue-collar and employ workers with lower education levels.

I don’t mean to make sweeping generalizations but in our reality, those with lower education levels in todays economy don’t get the jobs with higher pay. Those with no education tend to go into the professions with a lot of heavy lifting and no education, certification or degree requirements. Some of these jobs do actually pay surprisingly well but are dangerous and there aren’t many ways to move up the ladder and increase income once you get in the door.

With all that I do online every day, things that improve my knowledge on subjects I am unfamiliar, stimulate my mind, give me ideas for business and make money, I can’t help but think that some of the lower-income familiar have lower income because they aren’t exposed to the the greater benefits of the Internet.

The last bit of research from the Pew study was even more intriguing and I’ll cover it separately in a future post.

Has the Internet had a large affect on where you are in your life now?

Image by Steve Rhode

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4 People have left comments on this post



» MoneyconeNo Gravatar said: { Dec 23, 2010 - 12:12:01 }

I think I would be a different person altogether without the ‘net! It gives you an unbelievable freedom which otherwise would’ve been either too expensive or not possible at all!

Thank you Al Gore (in the absence of anyone else taking credit for this! :) ) and Tim Berners Lee!

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I agree, freedom and opportunity! Thanks Leonard Kleinrock and Larry G. Roberts too ;)

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» The Everyday MinimalistNo Gravatar said: { Dec 23, 2010 - 12:12:43 }

I’m addicted. What can I say? :)

I love being online and the community here has been awesome. I also agree with your assessment about levels of income and the internet.

I wouldn’t consider it a priority at all if I couldn’t feed my kids.

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

That’s understandable ;) don’t you do a lot of your work online as well? Without it, would you be making as much as you do now?

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