Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement
Does differential access to computer technology at home compound the educational disparities between rich and poor? Would a program of government provision of computers to early secondary school students reduce these disparities? We use administrative data on North Carolina public school students to corroborate earlier surveys that document broad racial and socioeconomic gaps in home computer access and use. Using within-student variation in home computer access, and across-ZIP code variation in the timing of the introduction of high-speed internet service, we also demonstrate that the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high-speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps.
We thank the William T. Grant Foundation, the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, and Institute for Education Sciences for research support, Jon Guryan, Jesse Shapiro, Tim Smeeding, Andrew Leigh, and seminar participants at the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, Cornell University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Toronto, Georgetown University, Harvard University, the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, the Australian National University, the University of South Australia, and Deakin University for helpful comments on earlier drafts, and Rahul Kumar, Erika Martinez, and Sandra Nay for exceptional research assistance. Remaining errors are the authors' responsibility. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd & Erika Martinez, 2014. "Scaling The Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology And Student Achievement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1103-1119, 07. citation courtesy of