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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 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 211-240, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:211-40 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.3.211
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    Cited by:

    1. Falck, Oliver & Mang, Constantin & Woessmann, Ludger, 2015. "Virtually No Effect? Different Uses of Classroom Computers and their Effect on Student Achievement," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 223, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    3. Robert W. Fairlie & Samantha H. Grunberg, 2014. "Access To Technology And The Transfer Function Of Community Colleges: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1040-1059, July.
    4. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Murphy, Richard, 2016. "Ill Communication: Technology, distraction & student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, pages 61-76.
    5. Patterson, Richard W. & Patterson, Robert M., 2017. "Computers and productivity: Evidence from laptop use in the college classroom," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 66-79.
    6. Fairlie, Robert W. & Kalil, Ariel, 2017. "The effects of computers on children's social development and school participation: Evidence from a randomized control experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 10-19.
    7. Benjamin Faber & Rosa Sanchis-Guarner & Felix Weinhardt, 2015. "ICT and Education: Evidence from Student Home Addresses," SERC Discussion Papers 0186, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    8. Bulman, George & Fairlie, Robert W., 2015. "Technology and Education: Computers, Software, and the Internet," IZA Discussion Papers 9432, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Fairlie Robert W., 2016. "Do Boys and Girls Use Computers Differently, and Does It Contribute to Why Boys do Worse in School Than Girls?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 59-96.
    10. de Melo Gioia & Machado Alina & Miranda Alfonso, 2014. "The Impact of a One Laptop per Child Program on Learning: Evidence from Uruguay," Working Papers 2014-22, Banco de México.
    11. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2015. ""A Flop or a Success?" An Evaluation of the Welfare Impacts of the 6-3-3-4 Education System in Nigeria," IZA Discussion Papers 9131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. de Melo Gioia & Machado Alina & Miranda Alfonso, 2014. "The Impact of a One Laptop per Child Program on Learning: Evidence from Uruguay," Working Papers 2014-22, Banco de México.
    13. Fairlie Robert W., 2016. "Do Boys and Girls Use Computers Differently, and Does It Contribute to Why Boys do Worse in School Than Girls?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, pages 59-96.
    14. Patricia Dinis Mota da Costa & Luisa De Sousa Lobo Borges de Araujo, 2016. "Digital Reading in PISA 2012 and ICT Uses: How do VET and General Education Students Perform?," JRC Working Papers JRC104713, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    15. Agasisti, Tommaso & Gil-Izquierdo, María & Han, Seong Won, 2017. "ICT use at home for school-related tasks: what is the effect on a student’s achievement? Empirical evidence from OECD PISA data," MPRA Paper 81343, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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