NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education

Daron Acemoglu, David Laibson, John A. List

NBER Working Paper No. 19851
Issued in January 2014
NBER Program(s):   ED

Internet-based educational resources are proliferating rapidly. One concern associated with these (potentially transformative) technological changes is that they will be disequalizing – as many technologies of the last several decades have been – creating superstar teachers and a winner-take-all education system. These important concerns notwithstanding, we contend that a major impact of web-based educational technologies will be the democratization of education: educational resources will be more equally distributed, and lower-skilled teachers will benefit. At the root of our results is the observation that skilled lecturers can only exploit their comparative advantage if other teachers complement those lectures with face-to-face instruction. This complementarity will increase the quantity and quality of face-to-face teaching services, potentially increasing the marginal product and wages of lower-skill teachers.

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This paper was revised on March 3, 2014

Acknowledgments and Disclosures

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19851

Published: Daron Acemoglu & David Laibson & John A. List, 2014. "Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 523-27, May.

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