Using Facebook ad data to track the global digital gender gap

Masoomali Fatehkia, Ridhi Kashyap, Ingmar Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gender equality in access to the internet and mobile phones has become increasingly recognised as a development goal. Monitoring progress towards this goal however is challenging due to the limited availability of gender-disaggregated data, particularly in low-income countries. In this data sparse context, we examine the potential of a source of digital trace ‘big data’ – Facebook's advertisement audience estimates – that provides aggregate data on Facebook users by demographic characteristics covering the platform's over 2 billion users to measure and ‘nowcast’ digital gender gaps. We generate a unique country-level dataset combining ‘online’ indicators of Facebook users by gender, age and device type, ‘offline’ indicators related to a country's overall development and gender gaps, and official data on gender gaps in internet and mobile access where available. Using this dataset, we predict internet and mobile phone gender gaps from official data using online indicators, as well as online and offline indicators. We find that the online Facebook gender gap indicators are highly correlated with official statistics on internet and mobile phone gender gaps. For internet gender gaps, models using Facebook data do better than those using offline indicators alone. Models combining online and offline variables however have the highest predictive power. Our approach demonstrates the feasibility of using Facebook data for real-time tracking of digital gender gaps. It enables us to improve geographical coverage for an important development indicator, with the biggest gains made for low-income countries for which existing data are most limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-209
Number of pages21
JournalWorld Development
Volume107
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

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facebook
gender
Internet
Gender gap
Facebook
low income
income
development indicator
aggregate data
official statistics
World Wide Web
indicator
equality
coverage
monitoring
Mobile phone

Keywords

  • Big data
  • Development indicators
  • Gender inequality
  • Global digital gender gaps
  • Internet
  • Mobile phones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

Using Facebook ad data to track the global digital gender gap. / Fatehkia, Masoomali; Kashyap, Ridhi; Weber, Ingmar.

In: World Development, Vol. 107, 01.07.2018, p. 189-209.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fatehkia, Masoomali ; Kashyap, Ridhi ; Weber, Ingmar. / Using Facebook ad data to track the global digital gender gap. In: World Development. 2018 ; Vol. 107. pp. 189-209.
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