Experiencing the Digital Divide: A Longitudinal Analysis of Cell Phone Ownership, Use, and Diffusion among Young Adults in Southern Malawi

Hannah E. Furnas, Pennsylvania State University

The southeastern African country of Malawi provides a unique context for studying the Digital Divide – inequality of access to and use of technology – and the diffusion of cell phone technology, as the vast majority of the population is covered by cell phone towers, but less than half of households actually own a cell phone. My project uses longitudinal data from a study of young adults in Southern Malawi, Tsogolo la Thanzi, to (1) understand the prevalence and predictors of the digital divide in rural Malawi and (2) assess what it means for young adults in Malawi to experience the digital divide, through measuring the impact of cell phone ownership and use on indicators of subjective well-being. I use multinomial logistic regression and random effects models to determine the predictors of access and use for young adults in Malawi and how these relationships change over time.

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 Presented in Session P2. Data and Methods/Applied Demography/ Spatial Demography/ Demography of Crime