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The grey digital divide and welfare state regimes: a comparative study of European countries
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (successful ageing)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8391-5606
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7291-2875
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5485-8577
2022 (English)In: Information Technology and People, ISSN 0959-3845, E-ISSN 1758-5813, Vol. 35, no 8, p. 273-291Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Technology access, digital skills, and digital services are increasingly prerequisites for public life and accessing public services. The digital divide in contemporary societies matters for efforts to digitalize the welfare state. Research has already mapped individual determinants of digital exclusion and the existence of an age-related digital divide. However, far less attention has been paid to variations in digital inclusion between countries and to their potential explanations related to political systems. This study explores the influence of variations in welfare regimes on the digital divide among seniors (aged 65+) in Europe.

Design/methodology/approach: This article presents time-series cross-sectional analyses of the relationship between welfare state regimes and digital inclusion among seniors in European countries. The analyses are based on data from Eurostat, the World Bank, and the UN E-Government Survey.

Findings: The authors find extensive variation in the digital inclusion of citizens between welfare regimes and argue that considering regime differences improves the understanding of these variations. The findings indicate that the age-related digital divide seems to be least evident in countries with more universalistic welfare regimes and most evident in countries where seniors rely more on their families.

Originality/value: This is the first comparative study of the association between welfare state regimes and digital inclusion among seniors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2022. Vol. 35, no 8, p. 273-291
Keywords [en]
Digital divide, Digital inclusion, Seniors, Welfare regimes
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-100215DOI: 10.1108/ITP-11-2020-0803ISI: 000828217000001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85134625977OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-100215DiVA, id: diva2:1684332
Available from: 2022-07-24 Created: 2022-07-24 Last updated: 2022-12-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. "Please Mind the Grey Digital Divide": An Analysis of Digital Public Policies in Light of the Welfare State (Sweden and Greece)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Please Mind the Grey Digital Divide": An Analysis of Digital Public Policies in Light of the Welfare State (Sweden and Greece)
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the grey digital divide and digital policies in the divergent welfare regimes of Sweden and Greece. The grey digital divide is a serious problem not only for the individual but also for society. The grey digital divide signifies the inability of older people to utilize digital technology. In academic circles, the emphasis is mostly on the technological aspects of the grey digital divide or on the individual characteristics of older people as (non)users of digital tools. However, the problem is more complex in nature and is interconnected with the aging process and experience. 

The grey digital divide has multiple levels: the first concerns access, the second skills, and the third opportunities. This thesis concentrates mostly on the third level of digital divide because it touches on the welfare denominator. This particular level describes the encounters that older citizens need to have with the digital welfare state and the obstacles that they might face in doing this. Older digital “offliners” cannot take advantage of the welfare services that they need for their own well-being and cannot participate as equal citizens in digital space, which is expanding on a daily basis with new digital services.

This thesis is situated in the discipline of political science and draws on various disciplines, such as political science (welfare regime theory, neo-institutionalism, and path-dependency), public policy (active aging paradigm), gerontology (disengagement), sociology (exclusion via the digital-by-default approach), and ICT studies (the phenomenon of digitalization and the third-level of the digital divide). The thesis is a compilation of papers and consists of two qualitative case studies, a comparative study, and a scoping literature review. The key findings are as follows: 1) older people are a heterogeneous group and this applies in the digital world as well, with the appearance of heterogeneous digital profiles; 2) the welfare regime seems to affect the manifestation of the grey digital divide and there is a path-dependency pattern in this; 3) the more digitalized a society, the greater the chance that older people not using technology will be excluded from the digital and social spheres; and 4) digital policies indicate the priorities of every society and how older people are perceived as a social group.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University, 2022. p. 126
Series
Örebro Studies in Political Science, ISSN 1650-1632 ; 46
Keywords
grey digital divide, welfare regimes, digital public policies, digital technologies, older people
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-102757 (URN)9789175294810 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-01-20, Örebro universitet, Forumhuset, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Fel ISSN-nr är angivet i den tryckta versionen av avhandlingen, 1651-1328.

Available from: 2022-12-16 Created: 2022-12-16 Last updated: 2023-02-03Bibliographically approved

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Alexopoulou, SofiaÅström, JoachimKarlsson, Martin

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