E-INCLUSION IN HUNGARY, 2008 – Inforum report

2009. február 16 · Kategória: Documents 

Executive Summary Is Hungary rich enough to write off the larger half of the population of active age and to preclude them from the information society? In the age of the internet does the society have the right to open “digital infinity” only for the children, the young people, people with high education, high income, and the inhabitants of cities, and to direct the elderly, the people living in remote villages, the poor, and the less educated to a modern “societal Taygetus”? In our age the basis of getting information is the electric media, and the terrain of societal communication is the internet; and the internet will be more and more the terrain of working and exercising the citizen rights as well. Therefore, can the country allow itself to erect prohibitive barriers for several million people with such reasons likethat they are too old to learn; they live too far for accessing the internet; they are too stupid to learn the skills of the age? Thus, do we have the right to preclude thate generation from which we could otherwise learn as well? Approaching the end of the Year of e-Inclusion, we think we have the right to raise our word and say that modern outlawing cannot be forced upon 50 percent of the population of the country. Inforum (the Forum of Hungarian IT Organisations for Information Society) published in year 2000 its call named Hungarian Charter of Information Technology prepared by the professional community, which declared among othersalso stated that the chance of getting acquainted with the internet should be provided for people in disadvantageous situations and the elderly. Eight years have gone by, and the number of internet users above the age of 50, which was around ten thousand at that time, has increased to half a million by today, but still 5 million of our fellow-countrymen (above the age of 18) do not know how to use the internet. Although the ratio of internet avoiders decreased, but not at a significant rate: the ratio of people exprecluded from the information society is decreasing annually with only less than 4 percentage points. It is a very sad fact that close to 50 percent of the digitally illiterate are 60 years old or older, and 68 percent of them are inactive. Present report deals primarily with the elder generation, since in Hungary – in addition to the very unfavourable employment and labour market indices – we have to face first of all the problem of the rapidly aging society. We will also present examples,. butHowever, since Europe struggles with the very same problem, it would be worthwhile if the economic and governmental decision makers of Hungary would get acquainted with the best practices of the EU and at least with the political trendsdirections of the European Union. At present there are close to 4 million inhabitants over the age of 50 living in Hungary, and from those who are of the age that is still employed (between the ages of 50-64) only each third is working. In Hungary the ratio of active workers hardly exceeds 60 percent of the adult age population, which is an unprecedentedly low ratio even among the EU member states. 62.1 percentsons of the people between the ages of 15-64 appear on the labour market and 57.3 percent of them isare employed. According to the data that are published by Eurostat, while the rate of unemployment was 6.8 percent in the member states of the EU27 in August 2008, in Hungary it was 7.7 percent. The digital literacy level of the employees is also very unfavourable. In 2006 while 51 percent of the employees of the Union used the internet, in Hungary only 29 percent. More than 40 percent of the domestic employees do not have any computer skills knowledge. In Hungary the groups that are most in need of assistance from the aspect of e-Inclusion are those, who are older than 50 years, the pensioners, the unemployed people, people with low education and people living in smaller settlements, the poor. These groups can be considered to be fully excluded from the information society. We may see that in the last couple of years openness towards the internet has increased not only in the Hungarian society as a whole, but it is true for the age groups above 50 as well. But even within this societal group there is a huge gap along the border of societal status, education level, income. People with high education, who met computers at their workplaces, the groups of higher income can be easier persuaded to use the internet. On the other side those members of these age groups, who are in more disadvantageous situation socially are in need of significant and real assistance, and serious programs. Unfortunately already the side-wind of the credit and financial crisis was sufficient for Hungary to direct the “vehicle” of the country into the emergency lane. But it is possible to turn this into an advantage, if the country will accelerate – compared to everything else – the execution of the so far postponed societal modernisation programs, the transformation of the structure of the labour market, the development of the adult training system, the dynamic increasing of employment, and especially if – meeting the requirements of ourthe age – the country will make internet the joint basis of communication for everybody. The first e-Inclusion Report outlined an overall status quo, and it formulated an action plan. The implementation of the action plan still requires time,. oOnly one point was performed from it: the theory and concept of e-inclusion started on its way

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to conquer. In the report of this year we have defined the status quo in a more differentiated way, and we have reported those processes that have been started in Hungary. The second e-Inclusion report not only raises attention towards the gaps, but it already introduces the opportunities and the good practises as well. Between November 2007 and the end of 2008 the Hungarian civil organisations continued a heroic struggle to persuade the representatives of the decision makers, the governmental actors, the companies and the media about the importance of overcoming the digital divide through acts, and about the societal, economic, governmental, life quality and mental hygienic advantages that may be achieved by widely spreading the internet. This effort was initiated and it was also partially organised by Inforum. Inforum succeeded in persuading the representatives of the five Parliamentary parties to stand behind the issue, and concerning the need to bring Parliamentary Resolutions and to establish a Parliamentary Committee should be established for solving this problem. Inforum succeeded in mobilising the civil organisations,, whwhoich tried to exercise a stronger pressure in their own operation areas. It succeeded in persuading some high level governmental officers as regardsto see the benefit that is offered by the increasing number of the users of online governmental services. The Hungarian Parliament, relatively late in time, on October 6, declared that 2008 to be is the year of e-Inclusion. However, such declarations were not made at all by other European Parliaments. The mandate and resoluteness of the established e-Inclusion Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee is till May 2010. The news of the e-Inclusion event series reached the media only slowly. No success was achieved in mobilising the decisive majority of the Hungarian IT companies, in spite of the fact that in the economic sense the issue is exactly about the expansion of their markets. The enterprises that stood behind the issue were mostly the Hungarian representations of international companies. Something has started in Hungary. If the enthusiasm of the civil organisations will not decline, if they will find supporters, if the Hungarian economy will not collapse, if a couple of such development programs will be started that will finance the internet training and attention raising of the people involved, then maybe the plan to connect one million new internet users to the information society in Hungary could be realised, and the majority of them could be from the group of people of disadvantageous situations. It can be already seen that the one million users to be connected cannot be involved till the end of 2010, but maybe by the end of 2011 they can be. The European e-Inclusion policies contain several outbreaking points for Hungary. It is depending on the governmental actors and the enterprises whether they will live with the opportunities that are offered by the Union and the situation. The civil organisations performing beyond their strength and the Parliamentary politicians did their task and they will continue doing so. In Hungary about 50 percent of the population of the age of 18 and above, wasis digitally illiterate in 2008,, that is, they weit does notre not useing neither computers, nor the internet. TAlthough this ratio decreased in the recent years,, but not atwith a significant rate. The ratio of those excluded from the information society has been decreasinges with only less than 4 percent points each year. It is an unfavourable fact that close to 50 percent of the digitally illiterate are 60 years old or older, and 68 percent of them are inactive . Our annual report focuses primarily on the older generation, since Hungary has to fight in addition to its very unfavourable employment and labour market indices primarily with the problem of the rapidly aging society in the coming years. At present there are close to 4 million older than 50 years inhabitants living in Hungary. 16 percent of this generation used internet, and among them the ratio of regular (with at least one week regularity)

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users is close to 60 percent. The profile of the typical older than 50 years world wide web citizen is similar to the typical (average) internet user’s profile: he/she has higher education, he/she works, he/she is intellectually active, he/she lives in a multi-personal household, has a higher income, therefore old age internet usage is characteristically influenced by these factors in Hungary. The gender of the internet user is not a significant influencing factor of internet usage. The information society of the elderly in Hungary in 2008:

Internet user

Regular internet user

50+ inhabitants


16 %

13 %

Their number

638,000 persons

560,000 persons

64+ inhabitants


4.8 %

3.7 %

Their number

94,000 persons

72,000 persons

  The members of the 50+ age group got acquainted with the internet at the age of 53 on the average, but there are also people, who started to learn the basis at the age of 87. The elder age group mostly browses, reads email, reads news, searchesand searches/checks things when using the internet. In the case of the older people not using the internet the reasons of staying away is mostly cognitive type of reasons (not interested, do not need it), and not financial type of reasons. Unfortunately from among the people between the age of 50 and- 64 years old,unfortunately o only each third is working,. and Iif we examine the active people from the aspect of the labour market (both employees and entrepreneurs), then their computer and internet usage indices are close to the average of the population as a whole. In Hungary the ratio of active workers hardly exceeds 60 percent of the adult age population, which is an unprecedentedly low value even among the EU member states. 62 percent of people of the age 15-64 years old appeared on the labour market, and 57 percent of them wereas employed. According to the data published by Eurostat the unemployment rate was 6.8 % in the member states of the EU27 in August 2008, while in Hungary it was 7.7 percent. Unfortunately the level of the digital literacy of employees is also very unfavourable. 51 percent of the employees of the Union used the internet in year 2006, while in Hungary only 29 percent of them. The full report can download here (Translated by Judit Farago)