The Information Dividend: Why IT makes you happier

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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

    1. 1. Paul Flatters – Managing Partner, Trajectory <br />
    2. 2. Background<br />Wellbeing and life satisfaction an increasing focus for academics and policy makes<br />Previous research on impact of IT focussed on productivity and economics<br />Conventional wisdom often assumes negative impact of IT on life satisfaction<br />However, little research has been done on impact of IT on life satisfaction<br />This research seeks to establish any impact that IT access <br /> and usage has on life satisfaction<br />
    3. 3. Research Methods<br />Secondary analysis of World Values Survey (WVS)<br />35,000+ individual responses, 39 countries<br />Multiple regression analysis<br />Secondary analysis of British Household Panel Survey (BHPS)<br />10,000+ individual responses in the UK<br />Multiple regression analysis<br />Primary qualitative research<br />In-depth interviews in London and West Midlands<br />Primary quantitative research<br />1,000 nationally representative sample<br />
    4. 4. IT has a positive impact on life satisfaction<br />Regression analysis – both WVS and BHPS - shows IT has a direct, positive impact on life satisfaction…<br />… even when controlling for income and other factors known to be important in determining well-being<br />So, there is an ‘Information Dividend’<br />
    5. 5. IT<br />INCREASES<br />Sense of freedom/control <br />which <br />IMPROVES<br />Well-being<br />The indirect link between IT and life satisfaction<br />
    6. 6. IT empowers the disempowered<br /> Both WVS and BHPS analysis- suggest the Information Dividend has most impact on the most disadvantaged:<br />Those on low incomes (relative to others in their country)…<br />… and those on mid to low incomes in the UK (household incomes of £14,000 to £28,000 pa)<br />Those with fewest educational qualifications<br /> Primary research suggests that major benefits to this group include: <br />Practical benefits - educational and money saving online <br />Emotional benefits derived from increased social contact, sense of ‘equality’ and empowerment<br />Benefits achieved despite fears and ‘technophobia’<br />
    7. 7. “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)<br />
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    10. 10. Digital Gender divide : Women benefit most<br />Both WVS and BHPS show women benefit more than men<br />Results particularly strong for women in developing nations – perhaps because women have socially controlled roles?<br />Primary research revealed men and women have different relationships with IT<br />For example, IT access leads to an uplift in health satisfaction for women as well as providing important social links<br />
    11. 11. “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)<br />
    12. 12. Biggest benefits go to new users<br />BHPS shows a big improvement in life satisfaction comes to new users of the internet <br />New users of the internet derive most benefit from ‘social’ uses of the internet - social networking and instant messaging<br />More experienced users attach greater benefit to email and online shopping<br />Primary research in the UK suggests a restriction of IT use for experienced users would have a strong negative impact on life satisfaction<br />
    13. 13. The important social role of IT<br />Our research suggests that the social uses of IT were an important component of the Information Dividend<br />This challenges the ‘loner’ stereotype of IT users and the assertion that IT usage is linked to social isolation<br />Rather, people benefit from additional social contact with family and friends facilitated by IT<br />
    14. 14. “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)<br />
    15. 15. International Comparisons<br />
    16. 16. The international ‘Information Wellbeing ‘ (IWB) league table<br />IWB index (adjusted for GDP) suggests Zambia outperforms 38 other nations in delivering information wellbeing <br />China is bottom of the league table –not surprising given restricted use of the internet?<br />The UK comes 11th – performing better than the US and comparable European countries such as France and Germany<br />However, room for improvement if UK is to perform like European pace setters Sweden and Netherlands<br />
    17. 17. Implications<br />Enabling greater access to IT clearly has a positive impact on the most disadvantaged in society<br />These benefits are social as well as economic<br />Empowering beneficial use of information and communications technology through education – technophobia remains a barrier<br />Once barriers overcome, IT usage result in a significant and quick uplift in life satisfaction<br />Portrayal of IT use - particularly social networking and social aspects <br /> of IT use - should be addressed<br />Lesson for social marketers and others such as charities dealing with <br /> the issue of digital access and equality<br />
    18. 18. Implications<br /><ul><li>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
    19. 19. Women are the key beneficiaries of access to IT in the UK and in developing countries…
    20. 20. …focusing on enabling them to overcome ‘fear’ of IT accelerate solutions to digital exclusion
    21. 21. 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?</li>

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