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Is there an impact of household computer ownership on children's educational attainment in Britain?

  • Schmitt, John
  • Wadsworth, Jonathan

If personal computers (PCs) are used to enhance learning and information gathering across a variety of subjects, then a home computer might reasonably be considered an input in an educational production function. Using data on British youths from the British Household Panel Survey between 1991 and 2001, this paper attempts to explore the link between ownership of a home computer at ages 15 and 17 and subsequent educational attainment in the principal British school examinations taken at ages 16 (GCSEs) and 18 (A levels). The data show a significant positive associatio n between PC ownership and both the number of GCSEs obtained and the probability of passing five or more GCSEs. These results survive a set of individual, household, and area controls, including using other household durables and \"future\" PC ownership as proxies for household wealth and other unobservable household level effects. Home computer ownership is also associated with a significant increase in the probability of passing at least one A level conditional on having passed five and increase in the probability of successfully completing three or more A levels, conditional on having passed at least one A level.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 25 (2006)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 659-673

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:25:y:2006:i:6:p:659-673
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  1. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2001. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," IZA Discussion Papers 362, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. John Schmitt & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2002. "Give PCs a Chance: Personal Computer Ownership and the Digital Divide in the United States and Great Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0526, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
  4. Entorf, Horst & Gollac, Michel & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "New Technologies, Wages and Worker Selection," CEPR Discussion Papers 1761, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. John E. DiNardo & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303.
  6. Brian D. Bell, . "Skill-Biased Technical Change and Wages: Evidence from a Longitudinal Data Se," Economics Papers W25., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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