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Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • David Laibson
  • John A. List

Abstract

Internet-based educational resources are proliferating rapidly. One concern associated with these (potentially transformative) technological changes is that they will be disequalizing - as many technologies of the last several decades have been - creating superstar teachers and a winner-take-all education system. These important concerns notwithstanding, we contend that a major impact of web-based educational technologies will be the democratization of education: educational resources will be more equally distributed, and lower-skilled teachers will benefit. At the root of our results is the observation that skilled lecturers can only exploit their comparative advantage if other teachers complement those lectures with face-to-face instruction. This complementarity will increase the quantity and quality of face-to-face teaching services, potentially increasing the marginal product and wages of lower-skill teachers.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & David Laibson & John A. List, 2014. "Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education," NBER Working Papers 19851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19851
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Online education and inequality
      by nawmsayn in ZeeConomics on 2014-03-20 02:10:02

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    Cited by:

    1. Brueckner, Markus & Vespignani, Joaquin L., 2017. "Trade Uncertainty and Income Inequality," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 306, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    2. Paul Belleflamme & Julien Jacqmin, 2016. "An Economic Appraisal of MOOC Platforms: Business Models and Impacts on Higher Education," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(1), pages 148-169.
    3. Perri, Timothy, 2016. "Online education, signaling, and human capital," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 69-74.
    4. Patrizio Pagano & Massimo Sbracia, 2014. "The secular stagnation hypothesis: a review of the debate and some insights," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 231, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. Sam Allgood & William B. Walstad & John J. Siegfried, 2015. "Research on Teaching Economics to Undergraduates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(2), pages 285-325, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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