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

  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Jonathan Robinson

Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home. We test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, 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.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 211-40

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:211-40
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.3.211
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-applied
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  1. 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.
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  5. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2006. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 336-347, May.
  6. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3sm3c0wp, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  7. Julian Cristia & Pablo Ibarraran & Santiago Cueto & Ana Santiago & Eugenio Severin, 2012. "Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program," Research Department Publications 4764, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  8. Zavodny, Madeline, 2006. "Does watching television rot your mind? Estimates of the effect on test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 565-573, October.
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  11. 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.).
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  14. John Schmitt & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2004. "Is there an impact of household computer ownership on children's educational attainment in Britain?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19978, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  15. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 735-765, October.
  21. Fairlie Robert W, 2004. "Race and the Digital Divide," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, September.
  22. Robert Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes. Evidence from a Field Experiment with Schoolchildren," Working Papers 11-14, NET Institute, revised Sep 2011.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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