The Faster the Better? The Effect of Ultra-Fast Broadband on Students’ Performance
50 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 16, 2021
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
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