The internet has evolved into a major driver of overall economic growth, and the value added by the Internet to the broader economy surpasses that of many other major sectors.
Digital products and services have facilitated significant economic growth across the globe. In 2012, digital services and the internet contributed 4.1% to GDP in leading economies and this is projected to increase to 5.3% by 2016. In Greece, the contribution of the internet to the economy was at 1.2% of GDP in 2010, or EUR 2.7 billion (E-Business Research Center of Athens University of Economics 2015). In the US, internet industries were estimated to contribute 6% of real GDP in 2014, or $966 billion (Internet Association 2015).
The value added by the internet sector to the economy surpasses that of many other major sectors. In 2012, internet industries’ nominal contribution to US GDP was more than the contribution from construction, computer and electronic products, broadcasting and telecommunication, and accommodation and food services. Between 2007 and 2012, internet industries increased by 110% in nominal value-added to the US economy. In comparison, health care and social assistance increased by 24.5% - the second highest industry increase in value-added between these years (Internet Association 2015).
The expansion of the internet economy offers direct and indirect benefits for the overall economy. As internet activity grows, employment and productivity follows suit. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of workers employed directly by US internet sector companies grew by 108%, or equivalently at 16% CAGR. The internet sector’s share of total US employment grew by 113%: from 1% in 2007 to 2% in 2012 (Internet Association 2015). In New Zealand, firms making use of internet services are 6% more productive than the average firms in their industry (Sapere 2015). In the US, loss of internet access is estimated to reduce productivity by at least 15% for more than 40% of digitally intensive firms (The United States International Trade Commission 2014).
The internet has also created new possibilities for economic growth in all locations. In remote areas such as the region of Tromso in Norway, the Internet has allowed for local businesses to improve quality, service offerings, efficiency and visibility (DAMVAD 2013). In developing countries, the internet has contributed to enhanced efficiency in service delivery within the health, education and finance sectors, and has assisted individuals living in remote areas in gaining access to government services (Dalberg 2013). Finally, the internet plays a vital and growing role in the generation of tourism. Online content supports, on average, 49% percent of all tourist arrivals in the EU (Oxford Economics 2013).