An anomaly in the European online statistics....

Heres a question for the stats analysts out there... Why is the UK lagging behind much of the rest of Europe in online government service use, when digital inclusion in general is so high?

Two reports on internet use in Europe provide a very interesting picture of UK internet users were published last week. Ofcom International communications market report 2011 and the Eurostats Internet access and use in 2011 take an international perspective on the digital divide.

In its report Ofcom describes UK internet users as a nation of shoppers, with nine out of ten UK internet users saying that they had ordered goods or services online, higher than any other European country. The EU report confirms this although with a slightly lower 82%.

The EU report also shows that the  UK compares favourably for access and use. In the UK 11% of the population have never been online and compares well with similar countries like France (18%) and Germany (16%) and slightly less well compared with the smaller countries like Netherlands (7%) Sweden (5%).  

However what no one seems to have picked up on is that UK citizens are not showing the same enthusiasm for using public services online. Compared with online shopping at 82% only 32% of users have obtained information and just 27% have completed an online form. That big difference is not reflected in other EU countries to anything like the same degree, next after the UK at 50% is Germany where the difference is 18% and the EU average of 10%.

% obtaining information 
from websites of public authorities 

% submitting completed

official forms to public


% ordering goods
or services for private use

Difference between 

online shopping and

seeking info from e-govt sites

EU 27 48 28 58 10
Denmark 86 70 77 -9
Germany 59 19 77 18
France 56 45 67 11
Netherlands 62 52 74 12
Sweden 74 44 75 1
UK 32 27 82 50
Norway 76 56 78 2
Table data taken from the Eurostat press release

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Comment by Barry Phillips on February 29, 2012 at 16:40

Very interesting. Thanks.

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