E-government and Digital Divide in Hail City: a Quantitative, Older Adults Study
The subject of information and communication technologies adoption, Internet and e-government services in particular, have been widely investigated by researchers. It is an indication of the significant roles that can be brought to individuals and societies by such advanced technologies in which enhancing quality of life is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, many groups within societies are not gaining the advantages and benefits of the Internet and e-government because they are less receptive to ICTs. This has created a phenomenon known as the digital divide. Amongst these groups are the older adults. The rising attention towards the elderly is due to the increasing life expectancy. Thanks to health technological advancements and life style improvements, which are leading to better qualities of life, countries around the globe have older adults population rate larger than ever before. Saudi Arabia is no exception, as demographic characteristics have been changing in which life span is increasing and fertility is decreasing. However, literature of older adults and technology adoption, particularly adoption of Internet and e-government lacks the context of developing countries and the Arab world. Therefore, using this as a motivation, this study aims to identify, explain and understand the adoption, use and diffusion of e-government services within the older adults population (50+) of a vicinity in Saudi Arabia. The study uses a quantitative research method along with a positivist epistemology. The data collection technique involved distributing survey questionnaires to households’ residents (50+) in Hail city (area and simple random sampling). A small-scale pilot study was initially used (n=257) to validate and enhance the survey questions, followed by a wide-scale final study (n=937). Findings revealed that with regards to Internet adoption, age-based, gender-based, education-based and health-based digital divides do exist within the elderly population. It was also found by model analysis that elderlies’ intentions of whether to use or not use e-government services are considerably impacted by attitudinal, subjective norms, control and trustworthiness factors, excluding the two factors of image and trust in government, which showed insignificance. The study makes positive contributions to related literature, policy makers and industry. Finally, due to the restraints of time, finance and manpower, this study examined only a small portion of the whole population of Hail city; therefore, generalisations of findings cannot be claimed.
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