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The divide between analogue and digital


The divide between analogue and digital

Jordi Sevilla, economist; Juan Miguel Márquez, senior Engineer in Telecommunications;

Key points
  • 1
       Since the European Commission started to measure the digital development of the countries of the European Union through the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) in 2015, Spain has consistently ranked above the EU average. At present, following the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU, Spain remains in the vanguard of the digital development of the European Union, although it still lags behind other leading countries, prominently the Nordic countries. It also occupies a prominent place, on a European scale, in public digital services and connectivity. In the use of Internet by citizens, it ranks slightly above the European average and in the integration of digital technologies in companies and in digital skills, it falls slightly below the average.
  • 2
       With respect to the digital divide between rural and urban areas, despite Spain being a leading country in terms of connectivity, an important gap exists in terms of cover by networks of intermediate and high quality (over 30 Mbps and over 100 Mbps), which is in excess of 30 points (according to the values established by the European Commission’s DESI) between the two types of area. This is reflected in the degree of adoption of access to the Internet through the fixed network.
  • 3
       The digital divide between Spain’s socioeconomic groups is evidence that some of them present a degree of digital development close to saturation, equivalent to that in leading countries in the EU. Among these groups it is worth highlighting students, young people, people with higher education, and people with higher income levels. On the opposite side are pensioners, older people (55 to 74 years) and people with little or no formal education or with lower income levels.
  • 4
       The greatest divides, by order of relevance, are the divide in digital skills (in the order of 50-70 points between some groups), that of online transactions (between 30 and 48 points), that of digital consumption (between 20 and 45 points) and the Internet access divide which, although it has reduced considerably in recent years, remains high in some cases (between 21 and 32 points).
  • 5
       A special mention is merited by the divide that exists between employees and the unemployed, which reaches nearly 20 points in digital skills.
  • 6
       The gender digital divide continues to be present in Spanish society, but its dimension, in comparison with the divides in other groups, is fortunately smaller. However, the gender divide continues to manifest itself very strongly among specialists in digital technologies, as occurs across the whole of the European Union. In the case of Spain, as a percentage of the entire workforce, these specialists total some 3.2%, versus the 3.9% of the European Union. Among women, they total 1.1%, versus 1.4% in the EU.
  • 7
       Businesses also suffer their own particular digital divide. In this sense, the most decisive determining factor is a company’s size and, to a lesser extent, its sector (manufacturing or services). The divide is greater in the adoption of technologies that are more widespread and smaller in those that are in the process of expansion, but, in any event, it is extremely high. Furthermore, the digital development of the largest companies doubles that of SMEs. This happens both with more mature technologies (electronic data exchange and social media networks) and with newer ones (use of the cloud, and of big data).
Key figures
Key figures



Subject areas

Contents of the collection

The divide between the rural and the urban world

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