Though it is widely understood that broadband technologies that allow rapid and ‘always on’ connections to the Internet will provide significant benefits to the U.S. economy, this report is the first to estimate the economic benefits to the nation due to cost savings and output expansion resulting from the use of broadband technologies for an important specific sub-group of the U.S. population: the roughly 70 million Americans who are over 65 or under that age but have disabilities. Three types of benefits from broadband deployment and use are addressed: lower medical costs; lower costs of institutionalized living; and additional output generated by more seniors and individuals with disabilities in the labor force. Considered together, these three benefits are estimated to accumulate to at least $927 billion in cost savings and output gains in 2005 dollars (with future benefits discounted for the ‘time value of money’) over the 25 year period, 2005 to 2030. This amount is equivalent to half of what the United States currently spends annually for medical care for all its citizens ($1.8 trillion). As large as these benefits may appear, they are line with previous estimates for the benefits of broadband for the population as a whole. Policies designed to accelerate the use of broadband for these populations, however, could significantly add to the benefits, by cumulative amounts ranging from $532 billion to $847 billion (depending on the wages earned by the additional working seniors). The policy benefits are as substantial as what the federal government is likely to spend on homeland security over the next 25 years. Total cumulative benefits, under the right set of policies, could exceed what the United States currently spends annually for health care for all its citizens. Clearly, with so much at stake, policymakers have strong reasons to consider measures to accelerate the deployment and use of broadband technologies for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.
when you retire, your second life will be online. i had heard many a commenter mention their time constraints when faced with World of Warcraft or second life. is it unreasonable to expect a bimodal distribution on these platforms in the future? the young and the old certainly have the time. if these systems are able to attract older segments of the population, things will get interesting. actually, they already do.
if we leverage these enormous resources, ideally by making things like the mechanical turk or wikpedia fun for a large part of them, we’ll easily be able handle pensions and health care for a rapidly aging population, and still have funds left over for many more charity and nonprofit projects than today.
i always believed that a major reason for the bursting of the first bubble was that the internet experience of the average person is riddled with viruses, spyware and spam. it’s hard to overestimate how much this destroyed the trust and interest in all things internet. so maybe part of the appeal of these online worlds is there relative lack of annoyances (surely not for long..). what is needed, therefore, is a massive, probably grassroots, effort, to clean up the world’s computers and re-establish a safe browsing experience, and get these people back online. the rest will follow.