|Index of Volumes|
|VOLUME 140, NUMBER 2||2001/2|
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE:
Can the digital divide be contained?
Use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) is advancing rapidly, but diffusion patterns are less clear, and change fast. There is grave concern that such rapid, uneven change is further widening the "digital divide" between industrialized and developing countries, and may exacerbate the existing socio-economic divide between them. Based on findings of the ILO's World Employment Report 2001, this article summarizes the extent of the digital divide, analyses the economic effects of ICT use, and describes fundamental policies underlying successful entry into the information economy of certain developing countries. Finally, some international initiatives promoting "ICTs for development" are considered.
ICTs, knowledge work and employment: The challenges to Europe
The long-term welfare gains associated with the emerging information society should not be taken for granted. When aggregate output grows substantially faster than productivity, unemployment has proved to decline significantly -- a virtuous circle in which efficiency-enhancing technologies clearly play a part. Yet the employment effects of new ICTs remain difficult to predict. Analysing the processes whereby new technologies create opportunities for new markets and constantly renew the content of high-value-adding knowledge work, Soete argues that Europe's ability to sustain the virtuous circle will depend largely on macroeconomic and distributional policies, and regulatory and institutional reform in labour and product markets.
ICTs and employment: The problem of job quality
Jill RUBERY and Damian GRIMSHAW
Be it on work intensity, autonomy, career opportunities or any other aspect of job quality --current views about the impact of ICTs are polarized between optimism and pessimism. Yet no particular outcome is inevitable. What happens in practice, the authors argue, will reflect political choices made as much by omission as by commission. Their extensively referenced study investigates ICT-driven changes in organizational forms, employment relations and protection, working time and autonomy, skills, work organization and job prospects. While such changes will not automatically translate into higher job quality, an overhaul of labour market institutions would help to ensure they do.
ICTs and the possibilities for leapfrogging by developing countries
W. Edward STEINMUELLER
Though the digital divide appears to reproduce existing patterns of inequality regarding ICTs, some developing countries have narrowed the economic divide, through export-oriented production of ICTs. Certain ICT features seem to support a strategy of "technological leapfrogging" which successfully narrows gaps in productivity and output separating industrialized and developing countries. This article examines these claims, looking particularly at four difficulties in applying this strategy: acquisition of specific skills and adaptation of equipment; the market conditions needed for equipment and knowledge exchange; the need to acquire complementary technologies and capabilities; and the "downstream integration requirements" to achieve the necessary market development.