The Faster the Better? The Effect of Ultra-Fast Broadband on Students’ Performance

50 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2021

See all articles by Carlo Cambini

Carlo Cambini

Politecnico di Torino & EUI - Florence School of Regulation; European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS)

Lorien Sabatino

Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino

Sarah Zaccagni

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 16, 2021

Abstract

In this paper, we study the impact of ultra-fast broadband (UBB) access on student performance. These networks are based on optical fiber, allowing significantly higher speed compared to traditional copper-line connections. Our empirical analysis leverages on a unique dataset that combines information on broadband diffusion with data on student performance in 2nd, 5th, and 8th grade for the period 2012-2017. We exploit the staggered roll-out of UBB, starting from 2015. Through an event study approach, we find evidence of endogeneity between student performance and broadband diffusion. We deal with this issue through an instrumental variable approach that exploits plausibly exogenous variation in the diffusion of the essential UBB input. Our results suggest that ultra-fast connections significantly decrease students’ performance in Mathematics and Italian language in 8th grade. Instead, we do not find any significant effect in 2nd and 5th grade. Male students from low-educated parental backgrounds are those more adversely affected, especially if they attend schools with a low IT usage.

Keywords: ultra-fast broadband, internet, student performance, instrumental variables

JEL Classification: C23, C26, I21, I28, J24

Suggested Citation

Cambini, Carlo and Sabatino, Lorien and Zaccagni, Sarah, The Faster the Better? The Effect of Ultra-Fast Broadband on Students’ Performance (September 16, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3925004 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3925004

Carlo Cambini

Politecnico di Torino & EUI - Florence School of Regulation ( email )

Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24
Torino, Torino 10129
Italy
+390115647292 (Phone)
+390115647299 (Fax)

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

Lorien Sabatino

Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino ( email )

Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24
Torino, Torino 10129
Italy

Sarah Zaccagni (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5, Bygn 26
Copenhagen, 1353
Denmark

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