Spillovers from Wiring Schools with Broadband: The Critical Role of Children
48 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2012 Last revised: 14 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 14, 2015
Providing broadband to schools can be an effective way to foster household Internet adoption in neighboring areas. On the one hand, the infrastructure put into place to meet schools' needs can also serve households. On the other hand, students get acquainted with Internet at school and signal its usefulness to adults at home who, consequently, can be more likely to adopt it. In this paper we model the roles that broadband use at school and Internet adoption in neighboring households play in the decision to adopt Internet at home and measure their effects empirically. We use data from Portugal between 2006 and 2009 on household Internet penetration and on how much schools use broadband. We use two different sets of instruments for the schools' broadband use to alleviate endogeneity concerns. Both approaches yield similar results. We find that broadband use at school leads to higher levels of Internet penetration in neighboring households. Broadband use in schools was responsible for a year-over-year increase of 3.5 percentage points on Internet penetration in households with children. Across our dataset this effect accounts for about 17% of the increase in home Internet adoption. We also find evidence of regional spillovers in Internet adoption across households. These were roughly responsible for an increase of 2.1 percentage points in Internet penetration or 38% of the total increase in household Internet penetration between 2006 and 2009. These results show that wiring schools with broadband is an effective policy to lower the barriers for Internet adoption at home and as such contributes to accelerate the pace of broadband diffusion.
Keywords: broadband in schools, household Internet adoption, technology spillovers, instrumental variables
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