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Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement

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  • Jacob L. Vigdor
  • Helen F. Ladd

Abstract

Does differential access to computer technology at home compound the educational disparities between rich and poor? Would a program of government provision of computers to early secondary school students reduce these disparities? We use administrative data on North Carolina public school students to corroborate earlier surveys that document broad racial and socioeconomic gaps in home computer access and use. Using within-student variation in home computer access, and across-ZIP code variation in the timing of the introduction of high-speed internet service, we also demonstrate that the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high-speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd, 2010. "Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 16078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16078
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata, 1984–1989," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 33-60.
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    7. Beltran, Daniel O. & Das, Kuntal K. & Fairlie, Robert W., 2006. "Do Home Computers Improve Educational Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Current Population Surveys and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997," IZA Discussion Papers 1912, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Laptops, niños y Darth Vader
      by Francisco Mejía in Hacia el desarrollo efectivo on 2014-09-19 16:30:35
    2. Development that Works: Laptops, children and Darth Vader
      by Francisco Mejía in Eval Central on 2014-09-19 16:40:35

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:295-320 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Robert W. Fairlie & Samantha H. Grunberg, 2014. "Access To Technology And The Transfer Function Of Community Colleges: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1040-1059, July.
    3. Fairlie Robert W., 2016. "Do Boys and Girls Use Computers Differently, and Does It Contribute to Why Boys do Worse in School Than Girls?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 59-96, January.
    4. Benjamin Faber & Rosa Sanchis-Guarner & Felix Weinhardt, 2015. "ICT and Education: Evidence from Student Home Addresses," SERC Discussion Papers 0186, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    5. Bergman, Peter & Rogers, Todd, 2017. "The Impact of Defaults on Technology Adoption, and Its Underappreciation by Pollicymakers," Working Paper Series rwp17-021, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    6. Hull, Marie C. & Duch, Katherine, 2017. "One-To-One Technology and Student Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 10886, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Fairlie, Robert W. & Bahr, Peter Riley, 2018. "The effects of computers and acquired skills on earnings, employment and college enrollment: Evidence from a field experiment and California UI earnings records," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 51-63.
    8. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2016. "The Production of Human Capital in Developed Countries: Evidence from 196 Randomized Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 22130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bekkerman, Anton & Gilpin, Gregory, 2013. "High-speed Internet growth and the demand for locally accessible information content," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 1-10.
    10. Fairlie, Robert W. & Kalil, Ariel, 2017. "The effects of computers on children's social development and school participation: Evidence from a randomized control experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 10-19.
    11. repec:eee:iepoli:v:44:y:2018:i:c:p:8-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Julian Cristia & Pablo Ibarrarán & Santiago Cueto & Ana Santiago & Eugenio Severín, 2017. "Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 295-320, July.
    13. Peter Leopold S. Bergman, 2016. "Technology Adoption in Education: Usage, Spillovers and Student Achievement," CESifo Working Paper Series 6101, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Malamud, Ofer & Cueto, Santiago & Cristia, Julian & Beuermann, Diether W., 2019. "Do children benefit from internet access? Experimental evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 41-56.
    15. Nick Huntington-Klein & James Cowan & Dan Goldhaber, 2017. "Selection into Online Community College Courses and Their Effects on Persistence," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 58(3), pages 244-269, May.
    16. Robert W. Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 211-240, July.
    17. 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.
    18. Stefan Bauernschuster & Oliver Falck & Ludger Wößmann, 2011. "Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseen Technological Mistake," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 392, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    19. Agasisti, Tommaso & Gil-Izquierdo, María & Han, Seong Won, 2017. "ICT use at home for school-related tasks: what is the effect on a student’s achievement? Empirical evidence from OECD PISA data," MPRA Paper 81343, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:26:y:2019:i:3:d:10.1007_s10797-018-9528-x is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Surfing alone? The internet and social capital: Evidence from an unforeseeable technological mistake," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 73-89.
    22. Fairlie, Robert W., 2012. "The effects of home access to technology on computer skills: Evidence from a field experiment," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 243-253.
    23. Francisco Gallego & Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2017. "Parental Monitoring and Children's Internet Use: The Role of Information, Control, and Cues," NBER Working Papers 23982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Grenestam, Erik & Nordin, Martin, 2017. "High-Speed Broadband and Academic Achievement in Teenagers: Evidence from Sweden," Working Papers 2017:17, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 23 Apr 2018.
    25. Rodrigo Belo & Pedro Ferreira & Rahul Telang, 2014. "Broadband in School: Impact on Student Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(2), pages 265-282, February.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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