Estimating Internet Users: An Evidence-Based Alternative in the Absence of Survey Data
CPRafrica 2012/CPRsouth7 Conference, Port Louis, Mauritius
20 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 5, 2012
There are numerous Information and Communication Technology (ICT) indicators measured by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The present paper seeks to improve the measurement of the ICT indicator, ‘proportion of individuals using the Internet’. It is also a base indicator that is used in many composite indices. Errors in such base indicators ripple through the system, and should be minimized.
There are significant shortcomings in the current method of estimating the proportion of Internet users in countries where demand-side data is unavailable. In the absence of demand-side surveys, governments calculate the proportion of Internet users based on the number of subscriptions, using a multiplier, which leads to unrealistic values. The reported number of subscriptions is also often inaccurate.
This paper explores the possibility of using readily available income and education data components of the Human Development Index (HDI) to define a new index, and using it to obtain a more accurate estimate of the Internet penetration rate. A regression analysis, between the Internet penetration rate and this new index, for countries where demand-side surveys have been conducted yields a direct correlation between the two.
Using this data, a model was derived which enables the estimation of Internet penetration rate given the income and education level. It is proposed that this evidence based estimation of Internet penetration rate be used in the absence of demand side surveys instead of arbitrary multipliers provided by country administrations. If national circumstances justify higher numbers, that should be supported by a demand-side survey.
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