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Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren

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  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Jonathan Robinson

Abstract

Computers are an important part of modern education, yet large segments of the population – especially low-income and minority children – lack access to a computer at home. Does this impede educational achievement? We test this hypothesis by conducting the largest-ever field experiment involving the random provision of free computers for home use to students. 1,123 schoolchildren grades 6-10 in 15 California schools participated in the experiment. Although the program significantly increased computer ownership and use, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, standardized test scores, credits earned, attendance and disciplinary actions. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other “intermediate” inputs in education for treatment students.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4128.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4128

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Keywords: computers; education; experiment;

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References

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  1. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 2012. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(561), pages 727-753, 06.
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  7. Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2005. "Remedying education: Evidence from two randomized experiments in india," Framed Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00122, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2003. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 109, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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  13. Barrera-Osorio, Felipe & Linden, Leigh L., 2009. "The use and misuse of computers in education : evidence from a randomized experiment in Colombia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4836, The World Bank.
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  16. Fairlie Robert W, 2004. "Race and the Digital Divide," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, September.
  17. Lisa Barrow & Lisa Markman & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2009. "Technology's Edge: The Educational Benefits of Computer-Aided Instruction," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 52-74, February.
  18. Daniel O. Beltran & Kuntal K. Das & Robert W. Fairlie, 2008. "Home computers and educational outcomes: evidence from the NLSY97 and CPS," International Finance Discussion Papers, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 958, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd, 2010. "Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 16078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  21. Robert W. Fairlie & Daniel O. Beltran & Kuntal K. Das, 2010. "HOME COMPUTERS AND EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES: EVIDENCE FROM THE NLSY97 and CPS-super-," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 771-792, 07.
  22. Fiorini, M., 2010. "The effect of home computer use on children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 55-72, February.
  23. Robert Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes. Evidence from a Field Experiment with Schoolchildren," Working Papers, NET Institute 11-14, NET Institute, revised Sep 2011.
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Cited by:
  1. Fairlie, Robert W. & Grunberg, Samantha H., 2013. "Access to Technology and the Transfer Function of Community Colleges: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7764, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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