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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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  1. Paul Carrillo & Mercedes Onofa & Juan Ponce, 2011. "Information Technology and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Ecuador," Research Department Publications 4698, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  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. Machin, Stephen & McNally, Sandra & Silva, Olmo, 2006. "New Technology in Schools: Is There a Payoff?," IZA Discussion Papers 2234, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Daniel O. Beltran & Kuntal K. Das & Robert W. Fairlie, 2008. "Home computers and educational outcomes: evidence from the NLSY97 and CPS," International Finance Discussion Papers 958, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Schmitt, John & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 2006. "Is there an impact of household computer ownership on children's educational attainment in Britain?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 659-673, December.
  7. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
  8. Cristia, Julián P. & Ibarrarán, Pablo & Cueto, Santiago & Santiago, Ana & Severín, Eugenio, 2012. "Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6401, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "Race and the Digital Divide," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt48h8h99w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  10. Lisa Barrow & Lisa Markham & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2007. "Technology’s edge: the educational benefits of computer-aided instruction," Working Paper Series WP-07-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes, 2003. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," NBER Working Papers 10121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Effects of Home Computers on School Enrollment," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt82w8v1m8, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  13. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
  14. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 2012. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(561), pages 727-753, 06.
  15. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2002. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 9090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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 - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  17. Zavodny, Madeline, 2006. "Does watching television rot your mind? Estimates of the effect on test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 565-573, October.
  18. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 735-765, October.
  19. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2011. "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 987-1027.
  20. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
  21. Robert Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes. Evidence from a Field Experiment with Schoolchildren," Working Papers 11-14, NET Institute, revised Sep 2011.
  22. Barrera-Osorio, Felipe & Linden, Leigh L., 2009. "The use and misuse of computers in education : evidence from a randomized experiment in Colombia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4836, The World Bank.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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