Access & Use of Technology

Information and Communication Technology


Information technology (IT) such as computers, cellular phones, and the Internet can play a significant role in determining an immigrant’s academic and professional success, and those successes can make it easier for people to obtain citizenship. Additionally, as government agencies and community organizations expand their use of IT in outreach, education, and immigrant integration campaigns, access and use of IT will continue to grow in significance. It is therefore crucial to have clear measures of levels of access, rates and patterns of use, and preferred communication media for the naturalization eligible population.

Existing research presents two major limitations: 1) lack of data specifically broken out for immigrant subgroups and 2) diverse means of defining disparities. Available analyses point to broad differences in access and use of IT between foreign-born and native-born populations. However, data is rarely collected that reflects differences amongst immigrant populations—such as those by citizenship status, country of birth, race/ethnicity, and age. While some studies have looked at one or two of these dimensions, much of the publicly available data lacks this level of detail. Despite the aforementioned limitations in national level research and data regarding immigrant IT use and access, some states with large immigrant populations, like California, are beginning to collect data on technology access and use for immigrant populations.

This project as well as ongoing research on naturalization is supported by:
Carnegie Corporation of New York,
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), and
California Community Foundation

Major contributors:
Anna Jacobsen, Master of Planning and Public Administration
Christian Lopez, Master of Public Policy
Alexander Chan, Master of Public Administration, Master of Communications Management
Edward-Michael Muna, Master of Public Policy
Editorial manager:
Anna Fischer, Program Coordinator, Tomas Rivera Policy Institute

This site is divided into three main parts:

Disparities in access and use of technology discusses the digital divide—the difference in access to IT—and digital inequality—the difference in use of IT—by type of technology.

Key barriers to access and use of technology looks at how constraints on English proficiency and literacy, income, education, and social networks impede the ability of immigrant communities to use and adapt to technology.

Efforts to bridge the digital divide and their impact discusses the attempts to improve access and use of technology through computer and broadband access programs and community empowerment/participatory models, and summarizes the effects of these efforts.

About this project

The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, a university research center with the mission to address the challenges and opportunities of demographic diversity in the 21st century global city, has produced these featured digital publications using the USC Media Curator, an online publishing platform designed to bring together innovative research from across the University of Southern California and beyond. This project curates research relevant for immigrant service providers on the topics of Access & Use of TechnologyAccess & Use of Financial ServicesNotario Fraud, and Driver's Licenses for the unauthorized.


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