Thursday, June 19, 2008

Computers for the Poor

Remember the digital divide? Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all. From economists Ofer Malamud and Kiki Pop-Eleches:
This paper examines the effect of access to a home computer on educational and behavioral outcomes among low-income children and adolescents. Using data that we collected through in-depth household interviews during 2007, we implement a regression discontinuity design and estimate the impact of winning a government-funded voucher worth 200 Euros towards the purchase of personal computer in 2005...

We …find that children who won a voucher spent signi…ficantly less time watching television and doing homework. Moreover, the effect on homework appears to have had real consequences for school performance. We find evidence indicating that children who won a voucher had lower school grades. Parents reported that these children had a signi…ficantly lower expectation of going to college. Finally, we also find suggestive evidence that winning a voucher is associated with negative behavioral outcomes. These …findings indicate that providing home computers to low-income children in Romania led them to experience worse outcomes.
Sometimes evaluation is important.

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