In an article published in the October 2005 issue of the Economics of Education, Robert Fairlie, associate professor of economics at U.C. Santa Cruz, summarizes the importance of computers and education for communities in need.
“Teenagers who have access to home computers are 6 to 8 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than teens who lack access to a home computer, after controlling for individual, parental, and family characteristics.
Only 50.6 percent of blacks and 48.7 percent of Latinos have access to home computers, compared to 74.6 percent of whites.
Only 40.5 percent of blacks and 38.1 percent of Latinos have Internet access at home, compared to 67.3 percent of whites.
Among children, slightly more than half of all black and Latino children have access to a home computer, and about 40 percent have Internet access at home. By comparison, 85.5 percent of white children have home computer access, and 77.4 percent can use the Internet at home.
Among Latinos, Mexicans have the lowest home computer and Internet access rates, followed by Central and South Americans.
Racial disparities in access to computer technology--the so-called digital divide--are ignored in the latest Department of Commerce reports, entitled A Nation Online. “
"We are clearly not all a 'nation online'," said Fairlie. "Twenty million children in the United States, or 26 percent of children, have no computer access at home, and race is a key part of who's online and who isn't."