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The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes. Evidence from a Field Experiment with Schoolchildren

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Abstract

Are home computers are an important input in the educational production function? To address this question, we conduct a field experiment involving the provision of free computers to schoolchildren for home use. Low-income children attending middle and high schools in 15 schools in California were randomly selected to receive free computers and followed over the school year. The results indicate that the experiment substantially increased computer ownership and total computer use among the schoolchildren with no substitution away from use at school or other locations outside the home. We find no evidence that the home computers improved educational outcomes for the treatment group. From detailed administrative data provided by the schools and a follow-up survey, we find no evidence of positive effects on a comprehensive set of outcomes such as grades, test scores, credits, attendance, school enrollment, computer skills, and college aspirations. The estimates also do not indicate that the effects of home computers on educational outcomes are instead negative. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The lack of a positive net effect on educational outcomes may be due to displacement from non-educational uses such as for games, social networking, and entertainment. We find evidence that total hours of computer use for games and social networking increases substantially with having a home computer, and increases more than total hours of computer use for schoolwork.

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File URL: http://www.netinst.org/Fairlie_Robinson_11_14.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 11-14.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision: Sep 2011
Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1114

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Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

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Keywords: Computers; education; technology; experiment;

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References

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  1. Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2005. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," NBER Working Papers 11904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schmitt, John & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 2006. "Is there an impact of household computer ownership on children's educational attainment in Britain?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 659-673, December.
  3. Lisa Barrow & Lisa Markman & Cecilia E. Rouse, 2008. "Technology's Edge: The Educational Benefits of Computer-Aided Instruction," NBER Working Papers 14240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hiroshi Ono & Madeline Zavodny, 2003. "Race, internet usage, and e-commerce," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 7-22, December.
  5. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally & Olmo Silva, 2006. "New Technology in Schools: Is There a Payoff?," CEE Discussion Papers 0055, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Fiorini, M., 2010. "The effect of home computer use on children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 55-72, February.
  7. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
  8. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2002. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 9090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Wößmann, 2005. "Computers and Student Learning:Bivariate and Multivariate Evidence on the Availability and Use of Computers at Home and at School," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 8, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  10. McKenzie, David, 2011. "Beyond baseline and follow-up : the case for more t in experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5639, The World Bank.
  11. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2010. "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 15814, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  13. Goldfarb, Avi & Prince, Jeff, 2008. "Internet adoption and usage patterns are different: Implications for the digital divide," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 2-15, March.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 958, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally & Olmo Silva, 2006. "New technology in schools: is there a payoff?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3652, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. About those computers Kevin was organising . . .
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2011-12-21 11:18:05
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Cited by:
  1. Fairlie, Robert W. & Robinson, Jonathan, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," IZA Discussion Papers 7211, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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