Social Distancing and School Closures: Documenting Disparity in Internet Access among School Children

28 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2020

See all articles by Ananya Sen

Ananya Sen

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

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS)

Date Written: April 10, 2020

Abstract

Social distancing directives across the United States have led to school closures. Some districts are moving towards online instruction but this requires internet access at home. We examine the factors that determine whether school children have access to the internet at home. We document that poor and non-white children still have lower access to the internet. Moreover, in areas where poor and non-white children have relatively lower test scores, such children are more likely to not have access to the internet. However, there is some evidence of positive spillovers from the historic presence of ICT industries in the local area in improving the access of disadvantaged children to the internet. The empirical insights highlight how the digital divide might exacerbate existing educational inequalities in the face of school closures due to social distancing.

Keywords: Digital Divide, Education, Internet, Pandemic

Suggested Citation

Sen, Ananya and Tucker, Catherine E., Social Distancing and School Closures: Documenting Disparity in Internet Access among School Children (April 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3572922 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3572922

Ananya Sen

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

4800 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA Pittsburgh 15213-3890
United States

Catherine E. Tucker (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS) ( email )

100 Main St
E62-536
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cetucker.scripts.mit.edu

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