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Study: Internet use in small town and rural Canada

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The Daily

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Despite the potential of the Internet as a tool to overcome distance, living in rural and small town Canada continues to be a factor associated with lower rates of Internet use, according to a new study released today in the Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin.

The study, which uses data from the Canadian Internet Use Survey, found that geographic location has an independent influence on Internet use after controlling for other factors, including age, education and household income.

The odds of an individual in an urban area using the Internet for personal, non-business reasons are about one-and-a-half times those of someone from a rural or small-town area.

In 2005, only 58% of residents living in rural and small-town areas accessed the Internet, well below the national average. This gap between rural and urban areas may reflect the interaction of other socio-economic factors, or it may represent other effects, such as the availability of broadband.

Education appears to be the most important determinant of Internet use. The odds of using the Internet for an adult with at least some post-secondary education are almost three times the odds of someone with high school or less education.

However, the importance of some factors associated with Internet use has changed. Controlling for other variables, the presence of children in a household has no statistically significant effect, while women now appear to have greater odds of using the Internet than men.

Note: The Canadian Internet Use Survey asked 30,466 Canadian residents aged 18 and over about their personal, non-business use of the Internet, including electronic shopping. Conducted in November 2005 as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey, it excluded residents of the territories, inmates of institutions, persons living on Indian reserves, and full-time members of the Canadian Forces.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4432.

The study, "Factors associated with Internet use: Does rurality matter?", part of the Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin, Vol. 7, no. 3 (21-006-XWE, free), is now available from the Publications module of our website.

For more information or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Larry McKeown (613-951-2582;, Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division.