Who uses public access venues?

Photo courtesy of David Sasaki (Flickr user “oso”)


The last few posts based on the User Profiles working paper considered the “access” dimensions of public access venues – where people access computers and the Internet and why they go to public access venues. The next few posts, including this one, will uncover who comprises the “public” component of public access venues, that is, who are the users of public access venues?

This post will focus on two primary demographics of public access venue users: age and gender. Does the stereotypical public access venue user, young and male, hold up? Let’s find out.

Are public access venue users young?

Public access venue users under the age of 25; Sciadas, G., with Lyons, H., Rothschild, C., & Sey, A. (2012)


In all of the countries surveyed, it is clear that a significant proportion of public access venue users are young, under the age of 25. Even in Bangladesh and Chile, with the lowest percentages of users in this age group, over half of the users are younger than 25. This finding does align with much of the literature on public access venues. However, as demonstrated in the table below, there are other age groups significantly represented among public access venue users, particularly young adults between the ages of 25 and 34. Public access venues in Bangladesh and Chile seem to serve populations older than 34 as well.

Public access venue users by age; Sciadas, G., with Lyons, H., Rothschild, C., & Sey, A. (2012)


Do males constitute the majority of public access venue users?

While many users of public access venues are indeed young, it should not be overlooked that these venues also serve other age groups. What about gender? Are the bulk of these users males?

The survey sampling strategy aimed for 50% stratification by gender, so it is difficult to tell the whole story about gender with the table below. It is worth noting, however, that in three countries, Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines, the sampling objective was nearly met. Female public access venue users are clearly present and active. Cultural norms may account for the lower proportions in Bangladesh, as the survey enumerators noted it was difficult to find female users outside of major cities, where such activity would be less accepted.

Percentage of female users; Sciadas, G., with Lyons, H., Rothschild, C., & Sey, A. (2012)


While there is some justification to the stereotype that public access venue users are young males, there are clearly other populations using public access venues. The story of public access venue users being young and male is far from complete and exhaustive. These findings call for more in-depth exploration of age, gender, and other characteristics of public access venue users, which the Global Impact Study will do in the final report.

The next post will discuss the education and income levels of public access venue users.

For a more detailed description of the user survey findings on age and gender, please refer to pages 5-14 of the User Profiles working paper.