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The effects of home access to technology on computer skills: Evidence from a field experiment

  • Fairlie, Robert W.

Computer skills are important for educational and labor market success. This paper examines whether disparities in access to home computers are limiting the acquisition of computer skills. To address problems with selection bias, I use data from a randomized field experiment providing free computers for home use to community college students. I find that the treatment group of low-income students receiving free computers has significantly higher levels of computer skills than the control group of low-income students not receiving free computers. The “intent-to-treat” estimates indicate an increase in high-level computer skills of 17% points, and the LATE estimates indicate a range of 19–23% points. The results are robust to estimation strategy, measurement of the dependent variable, and inclusion of different sets of controls. The benefits appear to be the strongest among young, minority, low-income, and female students.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Information Economics and Policy.

Volume (Year): 24 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 243-253

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Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:24:y:2012:i:3:p:243-253
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Prince, Jeffrey T., 2009. "How do households choose quality and time to replacement for a rapidly improving durable good?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 302-311, March.
  5. Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd & Erika Martinez, 2014. "Scaling The Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology And Student Achievement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1103-1119, 07.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Peter Kuhn & Hani Mansour, 2014. "Is Internet Job Search Still Ineffective?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(581), pages 1213-1233, December.
  9. Hiroshi Ono & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "Race, Internet usage, and E-commerce," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2002-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  10. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "The Internet and Job Search," NBER Working Papers 13886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Daiji Kawaguchi, 2006. "Are Computers At Home A Form Of Consumption Or An Investment? A Longitudinal Analysis For Japan," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 57(1), pages 69-86.
  12. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, June.
  13. Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," NBER Technical Working Papers 0333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:2:p:987-1027 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  16. Vergara, Sebastián & Rovira, Sebastián & Balboni, Mariana, 2011. "ICT in Latin America: A Microdata Analysis," MPRA Paper 34598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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