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The Effects of Broadband in Schools: Evidence from Portugal

38 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 Sep 2014

Rodrigo Belo

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Pedro Ferreira

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Engineering and Public Policy

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: July 8, 2010

Abstract

The introduction of broadband in schools provides a new resource for learning but also an opportunity for distraction. Consequently, broadband use in schools can either increase or reduce students' performance. This paper provides a model that shows how these two effects trade off. We use a rich panel of data with information on broadband use in all schools in Portugal and on students' performance in the 9th grade national exams to learn how broadband use affects performance. We use a first-differences specification to control for school-specific unobserved effects. We also use a proxy for the quality of the broadband connection as an instrument to control for unobserved time-varying effects. We show that high levels of broadband use in schools in 2008 and 2009 are detrimental for the grades of 9th grade students. For the average broadband use in schools, grades reduce about 0.76 and 0.67 of a standard deviation in 2008 and 2009, respectively. We also show evidence suggesting that broadband has a negative impact on exam scores regardless of gender, subject or school quality. We also find suggestive evidence that the way schools allow students to use the Internet affects students' performance, in particular, students in schools that block access to websites such as YouTube perform relatively better. Although test scores do not measure all the effects that broadband in schools have on the performance of students throughout life, our results show that the introduction of Internet in schools is a task that deserves careful planning.

Keywords: School Peformance, Broadband, DSL, Instrument, Productivity

JEL Classification: C23

Suggested Citation

Belo, Rodrigo and Ferreira, Pedro and Telang, Rahul, The Effects of Broadband in Schools: Evidence from Portugal (July 8, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1636584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1636584

Rodrigo Belo

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.rsm.nl/people/rodrigo-belo/

Pedro Ferreira

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Engineering and Public Policy ( email )

Baker Hall 129
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

Rahul Telang (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

4800 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-1155 (Phone)

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