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The Effects of Home Computers on School Enrollment

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  • Fairlie, Robert

Abstract

Approximately 9 out of 10 high school students who have access to a home computer use that computer to complete school assignments. Do these home computers, however, improve educational outcomes? Using the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the 2001 Current Population Survey, I explore whether access to home computers increases the likelihood of school enrollment among teenagers who have not graduated from high school. A comparison of school enrollment rates reveals that 95.2 percent of children who have home computers are enrolled in school, whereas only 85.4 percent of children who do not have home computers are enrolled in school. Controlling for family income, parental education, parental occupation and other observable characteristics in probit regressions for the probability of school enrollment, I find a difference of 1.4 percentage points. Although the evidence is mixed on whether the errors are correlated, I also estimate bivariate probit models for the joint probability of school enrollment and owning a home computer and find larger effects (7.7 percentage points). Use of computers and the Internet by the child's mother and father are used as exclusion restrictions. The estimates are not sensitive to alternative combinations of exclusion restrictions and alternative samples. Approximately 9 out of 10 high school students who have access to a home computer use that computer to complete school assignments. Do these home computers, however, improve educational outcomes? Using the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the 2001 Current Population Survey, I explore whether access to home computers increases the likelihood of school enrollment among teenagers who have not graduated from high school. A comparison of school enrollment rates reveals that 95.2 percent of children who have home computers are enrolled in school, whereas only 85.4 percent of children who do not have home computers are enrolled in school. Controlling for family income, parental education, parental occupation and other observable characteristics in probit regressions for the probability of school enrollment, I find a difference of 1.4 percentage points. Although the evidence is mixed on whether the errors are correlated, I also estimate bivariate probit models for the joint probability of school enrollment and owning a home computer and find larger effects (7.7 percentage points). Use of computers and the Internet by the child's mother and father are used as exclusion restrictions. The estimates are not sensitive to alternative combinations of exclusion restrictions and alternative samples.

Suggested Citation

  • Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Effects of Home Computers on School Enrollment," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1wq0f4cz, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt1wq0f4cz
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