The implications of the findings are significant because depression affects millions Americans age 55 or older and costs the United States about $100 million annually in direct medical costs, suicide and mortality, and workplace costs. The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates that only about 42 percent of Americans aged 65 or more use the Internet, far below the adoption rate of other age groups. Given the relatively low adoption rates by seniors, the study concludes that the opportunity for better health outcomes from expanded Internet adoption is substantial. Further, with billions spent annually on depression-related health care costs, the potential economic savings also are impressive. "Efforts to expand broadband use in the U.S. must eventually tackle the problem of low adoption in the elderly population," says study Phoenix Center Chief Economist and study co-author Dr. George S. Ford. "The positive mental health consequences of Internet demonstrate, in part, the value of demand stimulus programs aimed at older Americans."

SOURCE Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies