The Effects of Computers and Acquired Skills on Earnings, Employment and College Enrollment: Evidence from a Fields Experiment and California UI Earnings Records

47 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2018

See all articles by Robert W. Fairlie

Robert W. Fairlie

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics

Peter Bahr

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: February 05, 2018

Abstract

This paper provides the first evidence on the earnings, employment and college enrollment effects of computers and acquired skills from a randomized controlled trial providing computers to entering college students. We matched confidential administrative data from California Employment Development Department (EDD)/Unemployment Insurance (UI) system earnings records, the California Community College system, and the National Student Clearinghouse to all study participants for seven years after the random provision of computers. The experiment does not provide evidence that computer skills have short- or medium-run effects on earnings. These null effects are found along both the extensive and intensive margins of earnings (although the estimates are not precise). We also do not find evidence of positive or negative effects on college enrollment. A non-experimental analysis of CPS data reveals large, positive and statistically significant relationships between home computers, and earnings, employment and college enrollment, raising concerns about selection bias in non-experimental studies.

Keywords: computer skills, earnings, employment, college enrollment, experiment

JEL Classification: I200

Suggested Citation

Fairlie, Robert W. and Bahr, Peter, The Effects of Computers and Acquired Skills on Earnings, Employment and College Enrollment: Evidence from a Fields Experiment and California UI Earnings Records (February 05, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6860. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3143417

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/

Peter Bahr

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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