International Journal of Internet Science

A peer reviewed open access journal for empirical findings, methodology, and theory of social and behavioral science concerning the Internet and its implications for individuals, social groups, organizations, and society.

Volume 9, Issue 1 (2014)

Use of the Internet in Capital Enhancing Ways–
Ethnic Differences in Israel and the Role of Language Proficiency

Sabina Lissitsa1 & Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin2
1Ariel University, Israel, 2Ruppin Academic Center, Israel

Abstract: Using data from a large scale Annual Social Survey of the CBS in Israel, this study examines the first and second level digital divide between immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU), Ethiopia, Western countries, and Jewish veterans in the Israeli society as manifested by Internet access and patterns of use. Western immigrants manifested the highest rates of Internet use, followed by native Israelis and FSU immigrants. The rate of Internet use among Ethiopian immigrants was significantly lower compared to the other three groups. After controlling for socio-economic variables and especially Hebrew proficiency, the gaps in Internet use between veteran Israelis and immigrants from the FSU and Ethiopia became insignificant. As for the second-level digital divide, among Internet users, the three immigrant groups closed the gap between them and veteran Israelis in human capital-enhancing forms of Internet use and manifested an advantage, compared to veterans, in social capital-enhancing forms of Internet use. Our important conclusion is that, background variables being the same, language proficiency explains ethnic differences in Internet usage as a whole and, more specifically, in human capital-enhancing Internet use. These findings are important for policy makers dealing with immigrant absorption, as they suggest that expansion of the variety of Hebrew learning courses according to immigrant level and specialization, for instance by combining Hebrew learning with the acquisition of digital literacy, might have beneficial effects.

Keywords: Digital divide, digital inequality, ethnic groups, capital-enhancing Internet use, language proficiency

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