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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. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2002. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 9090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
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  7. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "Race and the Digital Divide," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt48h8h99w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  8. Cristia, Julián P. & Ibarrarán, Pablo & Cueto, Santiago & Santiago, Ana & Severín, Eugenio, 2012. "Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6401, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally & Olmo Silva, 2006. "New Technology in Schools: is there a Payoff?," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 199, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Lisa Barrow & Lisa Markham & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2007. "Technology’s edge: the educational benefits of computer-aided instruction," Working Paper Series WP-07-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. 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.
  12. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2011. "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 987-1027.
  13. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Wossmann, 2004. "Computers and student learning: bivariate and multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at school," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 47(3-4), pages 359-386.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
  17. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 2013. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," CESifo Working Paper Series 4523, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. 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.
  19. Paul Carrillo & Mercedes Onofa & Juan Ponce, 2010. "Information Technology and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Ecuador," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 37758, Inter-American Development Bank.
  20. Hilary W. Hoynes & Marianne P Bitler & Jonah Gelbach, 2005. "What Mean Impacts Miss:Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," Working Papers 531, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  21. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.).
  24. 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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