Israel lags below average in a slew of measures on Internet connectivity, according to “Measuring the Digital Economy – A New Perspective,” a report by the OECD published last week.
Fewer Israeli adults and youth use the Internet relative to the average OECD country, the data found, though seniors aged 65 to 74 apparently are more tech savvy than their OECD counterparts.
On average, 95 percent of 16-24 year-olds in the OECD average used the Internet in 2013, compared to just 84.6% in Israel. Only Turkey (68.7%) and Mexico (68.1%) fared worse. Among adults, Israel lagged the OECD average by 4.8 percentage points.
The data for Israel was not broken down by demographic, and it is likely that the lag in Internet usage and connectivity is concentrated within the ultra-Orthodox sector, where Internet usage is often shunned, and the Arab sector, which has less access to good infrastructure and education.
Israel also falls short of the average on online shopping (14.8 percentage points below average); online banking (21.8 percentage points below average); and using online government services (18.6 percentage points below average).
These figures, too, reflect certain unique characteristics about Israel. Online shopping is limited by the country’s geographic boundaries and duties on imports, for example.
Similarly, lack of competition in the banking sector may mean banks make less of a push to offer good online services than in other countries, and the government is notoriously slow at advancing technological progress, a fact highlighted by the ongoing use of fax machines in government offices.
On the bright side, Israeli children accessed the Internet earlier than in most OECD countries. With the exception of Denmark and the Netherlands, more six-year olds in Israel already had Internet access than any other OECD country. When the measure went up to age nine, Israel was still in 8th place, well above the average.
When it came to business research and development in information industries, Israel stood out above every other country, even beating out research-heavy South Korea.
“In the OECD area, on average 30% of researchers in the business-enterprise sector are employed in information industries. This share rises above 50% in Finland, Israel and Korea, which also account for the largest shares of RD performed by information industries,” the report said.
Israelis also took that knowledge in more “radical” directions than other countries, according to the report.
When it examined how “radical” patents were, meaning how different the patent was than the underlying knowledge and research on which it was based, it found Israel on top.
“Leading economies in this respect are Israel, India, Korea and the United States, where the indicator of radicalness is more than 20% higher than that for lagging economies,” the report said.
In more general terms, the report found that two-thirds of adults in the OECD use the Internet every day, and 41% did via mobile or smartphone.
In 2013, more smart phones were sold than regular mobile phones, and the average smart phone had 28 apps installed on it, though users used only 11 of them, on average.
Wireless broadband subscriptions more than tripled between 2008 and 2013 in the OECD, rising from 250 million to 850 million.
“Around 60% of OECD Internet users use the Web for social networks or online shopping – but fewer than 30% use it to fill in public administration forms.
Only 11% book doctor visits online,” the report found.