The Information Dividend: Why IT makes you happier
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The Information Dividend: Why IT makes you happier



Event presentation by Paul Flatters, Managing Partner of Trajectory Partnership

Event presentation by Paul Flatters, Managing Partner of Trajectory Partnership



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  • These results are consistent with a theory that IT access and usage helps to empower people and thus gives them a sense of freedom and being in control. From this increased sense of freedom and autonomy, people’s well-being in increased. This is consistent with previous work in the area of well-being.

The Information Dividend: Why IT makes you happier The Information Dividend: Why IT makes you happier Presentation Transcript

  • Paul Flatters – Managing Partner, Trajectory
  • Background
    Wellbeing and life satisfaction an increasing focus for academics and policy makes
    Previous research on impact of IT focussed on productivity and economics
    Conventional wisdom often assumes negative impact of IT on life satisfaction
    However, little research has been done on impact of IT on life satisfaction
    This research seeks to establish any impact that IT access
    and usage has on life satisfaction
  • Research Methods
    Secondary analysis of World Values Survey (WVS)
    35,000+ individual responses, 39 countries
    Multiple regression analysis
    Secondary analysis of British Household Panel Survey (BHPS)
    10,000+ individual responses in the UK
    Multiple regression analysis
    Primary qualitative research
    In-depth interviews in London and West Midlands
    Primary quantitative research
    1,000 nationally representative sample
  • IT has a positive impact on life satisfaction
    Regression analysis – both WVS and BHPS - shows IT has a direct, positive impact on life satisfaction…
    … even when controlling for income and other factors known to be important in determining well-being
    So, there is an ‘Information Dividend’
  • IT
    Sense of freedom/control
    The indirect link between IT and life satisfaction
  • IT empowers the disempowered
    Both WVS and BHPS analysis- suggest the Information Dividend has most impact on the most disadvantaged:
    Those on low incomes (relative to others in their country)…
    … and those on mid to low incomes in the UK (household incomes of £14,000 to £28,000 pa)
    Those with fewest educational qualifications
    Primary research suggests that major benefits to this group include:
    Practical benefits - educational and money saving online
    Emotional benefits derived from increased social contact, sense of ‘equality’ and empowerment
    Benefits achieved despite fears and ‘technophobia’
  • “For all the frightening stuff that could happen, the empowerment actually does happen. It is frightening what is possible and we all know someone who has been scammed. However, things like the comparison websites are fantastic”(female, London)
  • Digital Gender divide : Women benefit most
    Both WVS and BHPS show women benefit more than men
    Results particularly strong for women in developing nations – perhaps because women have socially controlled roles?
    Primary research revealed men and women have different relationships with IT
    For example, IT access leads to an uplift in health satisfaction for women as well as providing important social links
  • “Being in touch with people, I am on my own quite a lot with two young children, its (I-phone) either in my jeans pocket or the side of my bed. Its an important part of my life”(female, Midlands)
  • Biggest benefits go to new users
    BHPS shows a big improvement in life satisfaction comes to new users of the internet
    New users of the internet derive most benefit from ‘social’ uses of the internet - social networking and instant messaging
    More experienced users attach greater benefit to email and online shopping
    Primary research in the UK suggests a restriction of IT use for experienced users would have a strong negative impact on life satisfaction
  • The important social role of IT
    Our research suggests that the social uses of IT were an important component of the Information Dividend
    This challenges the ‘loner’ stereotype of IT users and the assertion that IT usage is linked to social isolation
    Rather, people benefit from additional social contact with family and friends facilitated by IT
  • “It means I’m connected - especially for us not in our own country we feel homesick and it makes us connected. That’s an amazing thing.........Although its through a computer it sounds odd but it gives you a nice feeling”(male immigrant, London)
  • International Comparisons
  • The international ‘Information Wellbeing ‘ (IWB) league table
    IWB index (adjusted for GDP) suggests Zambia outperforms 38 other nations in delivering information wellbeing
    China is bottom of the league table –not surprising given restricted use of the internet?
    The UK comes 11th – performing better than the US and comparable European countries such as France and Germany
    However, room for improvement if UK is to perform like European pace setters Sweden and Netherlands
  • Implications
    Enabling greater access to IT clearly has a positive impact on the most disadvantaged in society
    These benefits are social as well as economic
    Empowering beneficial use of information and communications technology through education – technophobia remains a barrier
    Once barriers overcome, IT usage result in a significant and quick uplift in life satisfaction
    Portrayal of IT use - particularly social networking and social aspects
    of IT use - should be addressed
    Lesson for social marketers and others such as charities dealing with
    the issue of digital access and equality
  • Implications
    • Profession and policy makers may want to address the sense found among our qualitative research participants that IT is complex and that pace of change is too rapid
    • Women are the key beneficiaries of access to IT in the UK and in developing countries…
    • …focusing on enabling them to overcome ‘fear’ of IT accelerate solutions to digital exclusion
    • Does this require a re-thinking of attitudes to involving women in technology education as well as targeting from a social policy point of view?