MOBILE PHONE ownership and access to network connectivity improve socioeconomic status even as they increase expenses, according to a recent study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
The study, based on the National Sample Survey’s (NSS) 66th round consumption data for 2009-10, examines the socioeconomy of mobile phone ownership in India. The different categories studied under the project include place of residence, social category, religion, having Internet connection, educational attainment, age, and the state.
The study found that mobile ownership and access to technology had a positive impact on the Human Development Index (HDI). In states where teledensity was higher in both urban and rural areas, the HDI too was correspondingly higher.
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Kerala reported the highest teledensity (0.21) and it recorded the highest HDI of 0.764. In Goa, where the teledensity was 0.20, the HDI was at par with Kerala. The study plotted the teledensity of states with their HDI and found a direct relation. In Maharashtra, the teledensity was 0.15 and the HDI was 0.689.
Even as the HDI increased, expenditure, too, increased in households that owned mobile phones. The study found that households that owned mobile phones or had access to network spent considerably more than those that did not own mobile phones. For example, households owning phones in Sikkim spent 87 per cent more than households who did not own mobile phone. In Maharashtra, the figure was 67 per cent.
The study also pointed out gaps or inequalities in owning technology. It attributed the gap to socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. “Albeit noticeably lower teledensity, states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar appear to form a large chunk of the mobile telephone market; Uttar Pradesh accounts for nearly one sixth of the total market while Bihar’s share is 6 percent. Other prominent market includes Maharashtra (10 percent), Tamil Nadu (8 percent), West Bengal (8 percent), Karnataka (6 Percent), Madhya Pradesh (6 percent), Gujarat (5 percent) and so on,” read the study.
To bridge the gaps, the study concluded that more creative strategies were required to make availability of network more inclusive.