Drivers and Effects of Digital Poverty across Local Communities in the UK

Project reference: SH71

Application deadline: 10th April 2023

*Please note these projects are only available to Home rated applicants*

How to apply

The aim of this project is to assess the drivers and effects of digital poverty across local communities in the UK. It will rely on primary data collected through questionnaires, and on secondary data from several administrative data sources, to analyse both drivers and impacts of digital poverty. In particular, the project will be centred around several experiments where local communities in Sheffield and elsewhere will receive access to reliable high-speed broadband connection at cost price, giving the possibility to assess the local drivers of digital poverty, and the impact for disadvantaged households on several socio-economic indicators, such as education achievements, labour market participation, and community engagement.

This is an interdisciplinary PhD project spanning economic geography, regional studies and digital inclusion. The PhD student will have the opportunity to work on the first experiment of this kind in England, analysing how access to broadband could improve socio-economic conditions for households in deprived areas. This project is among the first ones worldwide to provide a robust and comprehensive analysis of digital poverty drivers and of its effects across households. The findings will help policymakers better understand how to reduce digital access inequalities across local communities. The partnership with the Digital Poverty Alliance will provide invaluable feedback throughout the PhD period to the student, offering the possibility of a secondment at the Digital Poverty Alliance to develop the skills needed to translate academic research into evidence-based policies.

The PhD student will be part of an active and multicultural cohort of PhD students based in the Department of Economics working on topics related to economic geography, the spatial distribution of economic activities and local labour markets. The student will also be part of the Sheffield Urban, International Trade and Environmental Economics (SUITE) research group and benefit from access to the doctoral training in economics programme, PhD reading groups, and the annual departmental PhD conference. Click here for more information.

This project would be well suited to a student with a background in economics, geography, sociology, or other social sciences. Solid data analysis skills and a strong interest in economic geography and digital poverty would be an advantage.