Robert Fairlie, 22 February 2010, 14:30, DIS

Monday, February 22, 2010, h. 2:30 pm. AULA MAGNA - DIS, via Ariosto 25, Roma
SPEAKER: Robert Fairlie University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA.
TITLE: The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students" (with Rebecca London - Stanford University)
ABSTRACT: There is no clear theoretical prediction regarding whether home computers are an important input in the educational production function. To investigate the hypothesis that access to a home computer affects educational outcomes, we conduct the first-ever field experiment involving the provision of free computers to students. Financial aid students attending a large community college in Northern California were randomly selected to receive free computers and were followed for two years. The randomly selected treatment group achieved better educational outcomes than the control group that did not receive free computers. Minority students and students living farther from campus benefit the most from the free computers. Home computers also appear to improve students' computer skills and use of computers at non-traditional times. The estimated effects of home computers from the experiment are smaller than the positive estimates reported in previous studies. Using matched CPS data, we find estimates of educational effects that are considerably larger than the experimental estimates suggesting that non-experimental estimates of the effects of home computers may be biased upwards.