Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital

54 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2010 Last revised: 18 Sep 2010

See all articles by Ofer Malamud

Ofer Malamud

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Cristian Pop-Eleches

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

Date Written: March 2010

Abstract

This paper uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of home computers on child and adolescent outcomes. We collected survey data from households who participated in a unique government program in Romania which allocated vouchers for the purchase of a home computer to low-income children based on a simple ranking of family income. We show that children in households who received a voucher were substantially more likely to own and use a computer than their counterparts who did not receive a voucher. Our main results indicate that that home computer use has both positive and negative effects on the development of human capital. Children who won a voucher had significantly lower school grades in Math, English and Romanian but significantly higher scores in a test of computer skills and in self-reported measures of computer fluency. There is also evidence that winning a voucher increased cognitive ability, as measured by Raven's Progressive Matrices. We do not find much evidence for an effect on non-cognitive outcomes. Finally, the presence of parental rules regarding computer use and homework appear to mitigate the effects of computer ownership, suggesting that parental monitoring and supervision may be important mediating factors.

Suggested Citation

Malamud, Ofer and Pop-Eleches, Cristian (Kiki), Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital (March 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15814. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1569232

Ofer Malamud (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Cristian (Kiki) Pop-Eleches

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~cp2124

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