Corresponding author: Robert W. Fairlie, Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA. Email: email@example.com.
The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students*
Article first published online: 1 DEC 2011
© 2011 The Author(s). The Economic Journal © 2011 Royal Economic Society
The Economic Journal
Volume 122, Issue 561, pages 727–753, June 2012
How to Cite
Fairlie, R. W. and London, R. A. (2012), The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students. The Economic Journal, 122: 727–753. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2011.02484.x
We thank the Community Technology Foundation of California (ZeroDivide), UCACCORD and Computers for Classrooms, Inc. for funding. We thank Hardik Bhatt, Jesse Catlin, Eric Deveraux, Oliver Falck, Eszter Hargittai, Ofer Malamud, Jeff Prince, Jon Robinson, Rhonda Sharpe and participants at seminars and workshops at the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy, the University of Chicago, UCLA, Case Western Reserve University, University College Dublin, University of Rome, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, San Francisco Federal Reserve, UCSC and APPAM meetings for comments and suggestions. We also thank Mike Rasmussen, Karen Micalizio, Katalin Miko, Bev McManus, Linda Cobbler, Zeke Rogers and others at Butte College for helping with administering the programme and providing administrative data, and Samantha Grunberg, Miranda Schirmer, Luba Petersen, Caitlin White, Anita McSwane-Williams, Matt Jennings and Emilie Juncker for research assistance. Finally, special thanks go to Pat Furr for providing computers for the study and for her extensive help in administering the giveaway programme.
- Issue published online: 1 JUN 2012
- Article first published online: 1 DEC 2011
- Submitted: 15 December 2010 Accepted: 15 July 2011
There is no clear theoretical prediction regarding whether home computers are an important input in the educational production function. To investigate the hypothesis, we conduct a field experiment involving the random provision of free computers to low-income community college students for home use. Although estimates for a few measures are imprecise and cannot rule out zero effects, we find some evidence that the treatment group achieved better educational outcomes than the control group. The estimated effects, however, are not large and are smaller than non-experimental estimates. There is also some evidence that benefits from home computers increase with distance to campus.