Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jean Kimmel

Second Advisor

Dr. Donald Meyer

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin Hollenbeck


This dissertation consists of three essays on computer and Internet (CI) use in the United States households. Surveys show that the adoption and use of these two technologies at home have been steadily increasing over time. In addition to providing information regarding the use of CI at home, the essays seek to address a number of issues.

The first essay investigates the factors that determine the probability of owning a home CI and those influencing the intensity of use by employing the double-hurdle model. The double-hurdle estimation reveals that the use of a home CI is governed by two distinct decisions: the decision to acquire CI and the decision on the level of use. The estimation results also show that these two separate decisions are determined by different sets of factors.

The second essay develops a theoretical model that incorporates CI use in a representative individual's preference function and examines whether the use of CI at home produces any time displacement effects on the allocation of time for market work, household production, and leisure. The study is based on the conceptual framework that the use of technological innovations at home changes the existing patterns of individuals' time allocation behavior. Empirical estimations are also employed to determine the net impacts of the parameters of the model on the choice variables under investigation.

The third essay explores the dissemination of home computers and access to home Internet among various social groups in the United States, the inequalities observed among each group (known as the digital divide), the trends the groups exhibit in the acquisition of these technologies over time, and the factors contributing to these disparities. The study focuses on the digital divide observed among three demographic groups (race, ethnicity and gender) in the period 1997-2003. The digital gaps for blacks and Hispanics (compared to whites and non-Hispanics, respectively) are relatively big and show a rising trend over time. The gender digital gap is relatively small and shows a slight declining trend. A variant of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition technique is employed to identify and quantify the factors that contribute to the digital gaps.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access