Home Computers and Educational Outcomes: Evidence from the NLSY97 and CPS

22 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2010

See all articles by Robert W. Fairlie

Robert W. Fairlie

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics

Daniel O. Beltran

Federal Reserve Board

Kuntal Das

University of California, Santa Cruz

Abstract

Although computers are universal in the classroom, nearly 20 million children in the United States do not have computers in their homes. Surprisingly, only a few previous studies explore the role of home computers in the educational process. Home computers might be very useful for completing school assignments, but they might also represent a distraction for teenagers. We use several identification strategies and panel data from the two main U.S. data sets that include recent information on computer ownership among children - the 2000–2003 Current Population Survey (CPS) Computer and Internet Use Supplements matched to the CPS basic monthly files and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) - to explore the causal relationship between computer ownership and high school graduation and other educational outcomes. Teenagers who have access to home computers are 6–8 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than teenagers who do not have home computers after controlling for individual, parental, and family characteristics. We generally find evidence of positive relationships between home computers and educational outcomes using several identification strategies, including controlling for typically unobservable home environment and extracurricular activities in the NLSY97, fixed effects models, instrumental variables, and including future computer ownership and falsification tests. Home computers may increase high school graduation by reducing nonproductive activities, such as truancy and crime, among children in addition to making it easier to complete school assignments.

Suggested Citation

Fairlie, Robert W. and Beltran, Daniel O. and Das, Kuntal, Home Computers and Educational Outcomes: Evidence from the NLSY97 and CPS. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 3, pp. 771-792, July 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1627406 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2009.00218.x

Robert W. Fairlie (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Engineering 2 Bldg.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
831-459-3332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.ucsc.edu/~fairlie/

Daniel O. Beltran

Federal Reserve Board ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Kuntal Das

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High St
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

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