In light of the shift in focus from information communication technology (ICT) access (access divide) and skills (skills divide) to the tangible impacts of ICT use (impact divide), a growing number of scholars have called for further investigation into the inter-territorial and multi-dimensional aspects of the digital divide in China. This study aims to address these gaps by examining the disparities across 31 provinces, particularly emphasizing the transition from the traditional access and skills divides to the impact divide.
Multivariate regression analysis extensively investigates the transition from the access and skills divides to the impact divide across 31 provinces. Additionally, ArcGIS software is used to analyze spatial agglomeration and the auto-correlation (Moran-i) and predict mapping patterns in the data corresponding to all three levels of the digital divide.
According to the study's findings, poverty is a significant factor in the digital divide between different regions in China. The research shows that provinces with advanced administrative systems, such as Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandon and Zhejiang, have high scores on the digital development index (DDI). However, regions with poverty-ridden and rural areas, primarily located in southwest, central and western China, tend to have lower DDI scores.
This study offers a novel contribution to the literature by presenting an innovative conceptual framework that explores the impact divide within China's provinces. The authors also address this lacuna in the literature by developing and testing two dimensions to examine the relationships statistically under a wide range of socioeconomic and ICT indicators.
The authors express their sincere gratitude to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable insights and constructive comments, which have greatly enhanced the overall quality of this paper. Jun Wen would like to acknowledge the support received from the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant number 72074176, while Renai Jiang is grateful for the support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant number 71874138. Their support has been instrumental in the successful completion of this research.
Hussain, H., Wen, J., Jiang, R., Waheed, J., Ali, W. and Khan, N.A. (2023), "Analyzing the role of ICT in bridging the digital divide: a transitional analytical framework for ICT access to impact", Library Hi Tech, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-06-2021-0194
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