The number of households with home PCs has nearly tripled over the past nine years, according to a new Statistics New Zealand report.
According to the report, "Consumer Expenditure 1998", that equates to 33% of households in 1998 compared to 12% in 1989.
The proportion varies with household income, dived into quintiles (fifths) - from 57% of households with incomes in the top quintile (more than $71,600) down to 17% of households with income in the lowest quintile ($19,900 and below) of 1998.
Households have taken advantage of lower computer and software prices - down 55% in the 10 years to March 1998 - to purchase more technically advanced computers for a similar amount of money.
Household services, the largest proportion of household operation expenditure in 1998, mainly comprised communication services.
Telephone and cellular tolls and rentals comprised 91% of communication services in 1998. As spending on toll calls and cellular phone charges increased over the decade, average weekly expenditure on communication services rose 78% in the 10 years to March 1998.
Also, the price structure of telephone charges moved toward line rental and away from toll calls. Despite prices of telephone calls falling continuously following the introduction of competition, improved technology and the corporatisation (in 1987) and subsequent privatisation (1990) of Telecom, spending on telephone calls increased. This occurred as the result of greater access to telephones and cellular phones, and more advertising contributing to greater call volumes.
In 1998, 96% of households had a tele-phone and 21% reported access to a cellular phone (up from 18% in 1997 and 13% in 1996).
The proportion of households with a cellular phone increases with households income. More than four out of 10 households in the top income quintile had a cellular phone in 1998. This compares with around one in 10 households in the bottom income quintile.