International Journal of Policy and Governance Networks 1(1) 45-68

The Digital Divide and E-Government in the United States

  • Carmine Scavo
  • East Carolina University, USA


This article describes the current state of Internet and e-government usage and access in the United States. While the US was one of the pioneers in Internet development in the world, it is easily demonstrated that a strong digital divide now exists between the old and the young, the wealthy and the poor, the more highly educated and the less-educated, and particularly between urban/suburban dwellers and those who live in rural areas. The patterning of Internet development in the US is identified as the major reason for the existence of these differences. Unlike many other countries in the world, after building the infrastructure to establish the Internet, the US government turned the provision of Internet service over to the private sector. This has resulted in world-class service in wealthier higher population density areas and much lower quality service in poorer lower population density areas. E-government functionalities—long promised as remaking government—are shown also to be subject to digital divide problems since utilizing the Internet for interacting with government depends largely on access to and knowledge about the Internet.
digital divide, democratic divide, e-government, social divide