Digital divide: the poorest in Brazil do not get pandemic aid because they do not have a cell phone nor internet connection

A study by Fundação Getúlio Vargas shows that the digital divide has affected almost a third of the poorest Brazilians who needed emergency aid

Brazil emergency aid
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Without cell phones and an internet connection, poorer Brazilian families were not able to get the emergency aid given by the federal government during the pandemic.

According to a study by the Centro de Estudos de Microfinanças e Inclusão Financeira at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV/CEMIF in Portuguese), the digital divide has affected 20% of respondents from social classes D and E, who were unable to receive assistance because they did not have a cell phone.

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The study also shows that, among the poorest, 22% did not get the benefit because of a bad internet connection and 28% because they were unable to use the Caixa Econômica Federal app. Social classes were divided into AB, C and DE based on the economic classification of the Associação Brasileiras de Empresas de Pesquisa (Abep in Portuguese).

Brazilian families from D and E social classes who were unable to receive emergency aid because of:

  • Failed to use the Caixa app – 28%
  • Didn’t know how to download the app on the cell phone – 18%
  • The phone did not support app downloads – 23%
  • Bad internet connection – 22%
  • No cell phone – 20%
  • The request was not approved or was under analysis – 65%
  • Another reason – 38%

Classes AB and C were less affected by the digital divide. For example, the lack of a smartphone has affected three times more classes D and E compared to the totality of people who have not been able to get the aid because of this reason (20% vs 7%). The same with precarious internet access, which affected 22% of people from classes D and E, but 9% when considered all the social classes.

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“The payment of emergency aid showed how the historical socio-economic inequality results in several ‘other inequalities’, as is the case of the digital divide. Most of the 47 million people who do not use the internet belong to the D and E classes. The public policies need to consider the reality of low-income people, under penalty of not achieving its objectives or promoting worse changes,” says the research.

The study was based on data collected by the Centro Regional de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação, referring to July and August last year, and on interviews by FGV/CEMIF. The analysis of these data has only been released now.

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