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Does Television Rot Your Brain? New Evidence from the Coleman Study

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  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Abstract

We use heterogeneity in the timing of television's introduction to different local markets to identify the effect of preschool television exposure on standardized test scores later in life. Our preferred point estimate indicates that an additional year of preschool television exposure raises average test scores by about .02 standard deviations. We are able to reject negative effects larger than about .03 standard deviations per year of television exposure. For reading and general knowledge scores, the positive effects we find are marginally statistically significant, and these effects are largest for children from households where English is not the primary language, for children whose mothers have less than a high school education, and for non-white children. To capture more general effects on human capital, we also study the effect of childhood television exposure on school completion and subsequent labor market earnings, and again find no evidence of a negative effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Does Television Rot Your Brain? New Evidence from the Coleman Study," NBER Working Papers 12021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12021
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    Cited by:

    1. Fali Huang & Myoung-Jae Lee, 2010. "Dynamic treatment effect analysis of TV effects on child cognitive development," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 392-419.
    2. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto Chong & Suzanne Duryea, 2012. "Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 1-31, October.
    3. Benesch Christine & Frey Bruno S. & Stutzer Alois, 2010. "TV Channels, Self-Control and Happiness," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-35, September.
    4. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto Chong & Suzanne Duryea, 2008. "Novelas y fertilidad: elementos de juicio de Brasil," Research Department Publications 4574, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. Benjamin A. Olken, 2009. "Do Television and Radio Destroy Social Capital? Evidence from Indonesian Villages," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 1-33, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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