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ICT Use Among Latvian Households and Individuals

Since 2004, the Central Statistical Bureau has, with financial support from the European Commission, conducted an annual survey of ICT use among Latvian households and individuals. The survey is based on a unified methodology and its conducted in all European Union member states, which means that the data are internationally comparable. We can review Latvias ranking among other EU member states.

Ieva Vanaga, deputy head, Trade and Services Division, Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

This is a survey which is based on a two-level sample.  First the bureau selects territories for study, doing so on the basis of the proportional number of households in each.  There is representation of

The survey can, to a certain extent, be divided up into two parts.  First, there are questions which have to do with the household as a whole.  Second, there are ones which are answered by each individual separately.  In all of the EU member states, the survey focuses on households at which at least one person aged 16 to 74 is resident.  The survey includes all persons in that age group who live in the relevant household, and that means that the results can be applied directly to this group of households and residents.

In some countries, including Latvia, older residents have also been surveyed, but people in that group do not have much to do with ICT.  In 2006, for instance, only 2.6% of elderly people had used a computer even once, while only 2.1% had ever used the Internet.  These data, in other words, are not representative.

In 2006, the survey includes 4,706 households and 9,208 individuals.  The response rate was around 74% for households and 70% for individuals. 

One of the main questions was the use of computers and the Internet in households.  Figure 1 shows that since 2004, computer availability in households has increased by 14.7%, while Internet availability has increased by 27.5%.  In 2006, Internet availability exceeded computer availability, and that is explained by the fact that some people look at the Internet on their mobile phones (this refers to those who have actually done so, not just to those who have the theoretical possibility to do so).

Figure 2 shows, however, that access to the Internet is very different from region to region in Latvia.  That may have to do with different levels of welfare and with the fact that there are still places in Latvia where the Internet is technologically (technically?)unavailable or is far too expensive.

To indicate differences in ICT statistics related to households with various levels of income, a system of income quartiles is used.  All households are arranged in accordance with average monthly income, and then the households are divided up into four quartiles, each representing one-quarter of all households.  The poorest households are in the first quartile, while the wealthiest are in the fourth quartile.

Figure 4 shows that households in the fourth quartile are eight times more likely to have Internet access at home than is the case with households in the first quartile.

When it comes to various kinds of Internet connections (Figure 5), wireless connections which include an Internet connection via a mobile phone are becoming more and more popular.  The proportion of dial-up and ISDN connections has been diminishing in recent years.

People in households with no Internet access were asked why they did not have it.  Figure 6 shows that significant part of respondents say that they do not want the Internet.  Costs are also important.  Nearly one-fifth of respondents admit that they do not know how to use the Internet, while one-quarter or so say that they have access to the Internet elsewhere and, therefore, do not need Internet access at home.

Figure 7 shows that an average of 52% of households in the European Union have an Internet connection at home.  Latvia is around 10% behind the average.  Leaders are the Netherlands (80%), Denmark (79%), and Sweden (77%).

Respondents of the survey were asked several questions about how they use computers and the Internet.  Young people aged 16-24 are the most active users of computers and the Internet 96.6% and 95.4% respectively.  Among those who are aged 55 to 74, 81.2% of respondents have never used a computer, and 84.7% have never used the Internet.  There are no statistically significant differences between men and women (Figures 8 and 9).

The largest share of computer and Internet users is found among people with a higher education 88.6% and 85.8% respectively.  Among people with an elementary education, only 40.3% have ever used a computer, and 38.6% have ever used the Internet (Figures 10 and 11).

In terms of employment situation, students use computers and the Internet the most 98.9% and 98.2% respectively.  They are followed by working people, including those who are self-employed 71.6% and 66.5%   and the unemployed 42.3% and 35.5%.  Other types of people who do not work (pensioners, (?)housewifes) use the computer and Internet least often 23.8% and 21.1%.

The place where people used the Internet most often in 2006 was at home, where 68.7% of respondents who regularly use a computer did so.  Work was next 42.4%, followed by educational institutions 18.4%.  Other places where people use computers include other peoples homes, libraries, Internet cafs, hotels, airports, etc. 19.7% (Figure 12).

Over the last three years, increasing numbers of people have been using computers at home, and that may be why the percentage who use computers at work, at school, etc., has been diminishing.

A similar trend can be observed in terms of Internet use (Figure 13).

The largest proportion of Internet users used the Net to search for information and to use online services in 2006 96.4%.  Other answers included communication(86.1%) and interaction with public authorities (49.6%), followed by selling (kda latvieu variant)goods or services or using Internet banking (44.9%).  It has to be said that most people in the latter group used Internet banking services.  Less popular were education and other forms of study on the Internet.  Only 25.2% of users used the Internet for this purpose in 2006.

Internet shopping has become more and more popular over the years in 2006, 81.9% of Internet users still said that they had never shopped on the Internet, but over the course of one year, that percentage has dropped by 5.4%.
















































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