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SPP 371

Author: Richard Rose
Description: The openness of the Internet is the opposite of the closed world of Communist regimes; its diffusion in post-Communist societies is a marker of change. This paper presents New Europe Barometer survey data showing the extent to which residents in Russia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania use the Internet. Diffusion differs greatly between Estonia and Slovenia as against Russia, Romania and Bulgaria. This is not so much evidence of a digital divide but of a dynamic process of leaders and laggards, since Internet usage is increasing in countries where it is currently low. An alternative indicator of change is rising physical insecurity. NEB data shows the extent to which individuals, members of their family or friends have been victims of crime in the streets and housebreaking. It also examines perceived threats from ethnic conflict. Whereas people can guard against crime by taking measures privately, protection against perceived ethnic violence requires collective goods institutions (or bads), namely, legal or illegal armed forces.

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