Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Internet is about Money not Democracy

There is strong belief among many people that the Internet both requires democratic freedoms and promotes democratic freedoms.  But looking at nations Internet use charted on the ratings of Democracy and Income makes it pretty clear that money drives Internet adoption.  In fact what relationship between Internet adoption and Democracy seems to be simply produced by the fact that western nations are both rich and democratic. 

Graphs made with gapminder.org graphing software.

The graph of Income per person and Internet adoption produces a very clear graph.  Clearly income is driving Internet adoption.


Charting Democracy ranking and Internet usage produces are far less clear graph.  A few nations with very poor standing on the Democracy score have high adoption of the Internet, while a few very democratic nations have low Internet adoption. There are a few western nations with both high income and Internet, but there is no clear relationship with many Democratic nations offline.


In fact the entire relationship of Democracy and Internet usage can be explained by this graph of Democracy and Income.  
Conclusion, Internet adoption is being driven by wealth.  As nation get richer they adopt the Internet more and more.  If there is a relationship between Democracy and Internet usage it is because of a possible weak relationship between wealth and Democracy.  But it is obvious that over a million people are poor and without access to the Internet and yet have the blessings of Democracy.

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