Internet usage rate in Portugal and EU: increases with the level of formal educational attainment (2016)

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Since 2009, the use of internet by the Portuguese population has increased. However, Portugal is still positioned within the lower levels of internet usage rate compared with the other European Union countries. In the EU there is a more frequent usage of internet among young people and people with higher school attainment.

Between 2009 and 2016, the internet daily usage in Portugal almost doubled, while in 2009 only one third of the population in the age ranges of 16 to 74 used the internet, in 2016 more than half of the people used it. Figure 1. presented below shows the evolution of internet daily usage of the Portuguese population, between 2009 and 2016, by sex, age and school attainment.

In what regards to sex distribution, the figure shows that women use internet less than men, even though the gender gap has been narrowing along the years.  Internet usage of men compared to women varies between 6.0 and 9.0 percentage points from 2009 to 2015, but from 2015 to 2016 it decreases from 7.0 to 4.0.

Regarding the age distribution of the daily internet usage, the percentage of population aged 65-74 using internet was five times higher in 2016 when compared to 2009, where only 4% of them used internet daily, although in 2016 represents only 20% of this class. People aged 55-64 also show an increase of more than double, going from 14% to 36% during these seven years. Nevertheless, there is still a large gap between the oldest and youngest internet users, in the age groups of 16-24 and 25-34 there is a daily usage of 95% and 89% respectively, percentages which also increased from 2009 to 2016.

There is a daily internet usage of 93% for those with higher school attainment, compared to 85% for people who had completed secondary education. It is for the people in the lower formal educational levels that the inequality is more prominent, where the internet usage represents only 39%. Even though people with low school attainment have increased their usage rate since 2009 (18%) there is still a big gap between them and the levels above.

If the weekly usage rate is observed, the last referred tendencies continue. In the Figure 2. percentages for every category increase, resulting in almost full internet usage rate for people in 16-24 age range (99%) and 97% for people with higher school attainment. But there are evident differences with regard to people with age 65-74, where only 26% uses internet at least once per week, and for people with lower school attainment, where slightly less than half of the people uses it (49%).

Comparing the European Union country members in their daily internet usage according to the school attainment, the Figure 3. shows that Luxemburg and Norway have the higher values of the total internet usage, 93% and 92% respectively, with slight differences between levels of education, meaning a more balanced use of the internet among the different levels of school attainment. In the other hand, Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania show inferior values in their total population internet usage and greater inequalities with regard to school attainment, Turkey being one of the countries with greater differences, 31% of lower school attainment use the internet in a daily basis, compared to 91% of the people with higher school attainment. However, the most unequal country in this matter is Croatia, having a difference of 68 percentage points (from 24% to 92%) between people with the lowest and highest school attainment levels.


Regarding the use of internet at least once per week among the EU countries, the Figure 4. Shows an avarage of 79%, with Portugal, Italy and Greece below the media, however it is Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey that show the lowest internet usage rates. As refered earlier, Luxemburg, Norway and Denmark still hold the first places when observed in their weekly internet usage.

Updated by: Andrea Oceguera Farías