Social Distancing and School Closures: Documenting Disparity in Internet Access among School Children
28 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 10, 2020
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
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