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

  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Jonathan Robinson

Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home. We test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, 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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19060.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Publication status: published as 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 211-40, July.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19060
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  5. 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.
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  17. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2001. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," IZA Discussion Papers 362, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. 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.
  19. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2002. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 9090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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