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Internet Access More Important Than Sex, Alcohol: BCG Study

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Americans are more connected than ever -- at least to the Internet.

A new survey by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) attempts to quantify just how much we value access to the World Wide Web and its findings are somewhat surprising.

Asked what they would give up for a year in order to maintain access to the Internet, 77 percent of Americans said they'd forgo chocolate, 73 percent alcohol, 69 percent coffee and 21 percent said they would go a whole year without sex.

BCG also tried to determine in dollar terms the worth of the Internet for most people living in the U.S. As it turns out, U.S. consumers would need to be paid roughly $2500 to live without the Internet for one year.

What do Americans value the most about the Internet? General search, e-mail and access to online banking and investing.

Dominic Field, partner at BCG and author of "The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity," joined The Daily Ticker to discuss the report, which aims to uncover the impact of the Internet economy on the U.S. and global economies.

As you might imagine, the size and scope of the web and its uses and users are multiplying fast. There are currently 1.6 billion global Internet users today and by 2016 the number is expected to nearly double to 3 billion, or half the world's population, says Field.

Today the Internet contributes $2.3 trillion to the global economy and is expected to grow to $4.2 trillion in about four years.

The Internet contributed $648 billion to the U.S. economy in 2010, or 4.7% of GDP; more than in any other country. To put that in perspective, the Internet economy is the eighth-largest sector in the U.S. and ahead of the Federal Government. Today, the Internet economy is growing at 6.5% a year in the U.S., one reason BCG believes this sector could eventually help propel the country out of recession.

In the past, amenities like alcohol, chocolate and (certainly) sex were considered 'recession-proof' -- but none of them had the power to boost the economy like the Internet. It really is a 'new era', after all.