• Black and Hispanic adults in the United States are less likely than White adults to say they own a traditional computer or have high-speed internet at home.
  • However, these differences of equality do not apply to other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, according to Pew Research Center.
  • Around 8-in-10 or more white, Black and Hispanic adults say they have a smartphone.

Black and Hispanic adults in the United States remain less likely than White adults to say they own a traditional computer or have high-speed internet at home, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021. But there are no racial and ethnic differences when it comes to other devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

this chart shows how Black and Hispanic U.S. adult are less likely than White adults to have a traditional computer and home broadband
There are no significant differences in equality when it comes to smartphones and tablets.
Image: Pew Research Center

Eight-in-ten White adults report owning a desktop or laptop computer, compared with 69% of Black adults and 67% of Hispanic adults. Eight-in-ten White adults also report having a broadband connection at home, while smaller shares of Black and Hispanic adults say the same – 71% and 65%, respectively. These gaps have been present across several Center surveys. (There were not enough Asian respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis.)

By contrast, there are no statistically significant racial and ethnic differences when it comes to smartphone or tablet ownership. Roughly eight-in-ten or more White, Black and Hispanic adults say they have a smartphone, and about half or more in each group say they have a tablet.

Similar shares of Americans with different racial and ethnic backgrounds report having all of the technologies included in the survey. Around four-in-ten White (42%) and Black adults (40%) say they have a smartphone, broadband at home, a desktop or laptop computer and a tablet. Some 35% of Hispanic adults report the same, but this share does not statistically differ from their Black and White counterparts.

When it comes to accessing the internet, mobile devices play a larger role for Hispanic adults compared with White adults. A quarter of Hispanics are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but lack traditional home broadband services. By comparison, 12% of White adults fall into this category. Among Black adults, 17% are smartphone dependent, but this share is not statistically different from their White or Hispanic counterparts.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about diversity, equity and inclusion?

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social and political unrest have created a profound sense of urgency for companies to actively work to tackle inequity.

The Forum's work on Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Social Justice is driven by the New Economy and Society Platform, which is focused on building prosperous, inclusive and just economies and societies. In addition to its work on economic growth, revival and transformation, work, wages and job creation, and education, skills and learning, the Platform takes an integrated and holistic approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and aims to tackle exclusion, bias and discrimination related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity.

At the same time, Black adults are more likely than White adults to say a lack of high-speed internet at home leads to certain disadvantages. For example, 63% of Black adults – compared with 49% of White adults – say not having high-speed internet puts people at a major disadvantage when it comes to connecting with doctors or other medical professionals. The share of Hispanic adults (53%) who see this as a major disadvantage does not statistically differ from those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Note: Here are the questions, responses and methodology used for this analysis. This is an update of a post originally published Aug. 31, 2017, and later updated on Aug. 20, 2019, by Andrew Perrin and Erica Turner.