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Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren

  • Fairlie, Robert W.

    ()

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

  • Robinson, Jonathan

    ()

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Computers are an important part of modern education, yet large segments of the population – especially low-income and minority children – lack access to a computer at home. Does this impede educational achievement? We test this hypothesis by conducting the largest-ever field experiment involving the random provision of free computers for home use to students. 1,123 schoolchildren grades 6-10 in 15 California schools participated in the experiment. Although the program significantly increased computer ownership and use, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, standardized 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 for treatment students.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7211.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2013, 5(3), 211-240
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7211
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