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The Pew Report: Mobile Divides in Emerging Economies

Access to a smartphone is a privilege often taken for granted, and a November 2019 report from the Pew Research Center highlights the "mobile divide" faced by those who experience accessibility barriers to these devices. The report surveyed 28,122 individuals from 11 countries with "emerging economies" to better understand mobile phone access issues. The study revealed that "a median of six percent of adults do not use phones at all, and a median of seven percent do not own phones but instead borrow them from others." In addition to this finding, the study explored connectivity issues, cost prohibiting concerns, and other challenges faced by those who did have mobile phones. Other issues cited by those surveyed included fear of stolen identities and other security concerns, expensive data costs, problems charging phones, inconsistent phone signals, and linguistic barriers. In response to whether those who didn't have a phone were interested in having one, the results were extremely varied (ranging from 86 percent of those surveyed in Venezuela being interested in "get[ting] a mobile phone in the future," to only 9 percent in Lebanon). Readers interested in taking a deeper-dive into the results can click through the corresponding 10 pages (including appendices) which narrow-in on specific access issues.
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2020-01-31
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