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CEP discussion paper
Is There an Impact of Household Computer Ownership on Children's Educational Attainment in Britain?
John Schmitt and Jonathan Wadsworth March 2004
Paper No' CEPDP0625:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I2; J2; J13; J24

Tags: human capital; economic impact; personal computers

If personal computers (PCs) are used to enhance learning and information gathering across a variety of subjects, then a home computer might reasonably be considered an input in an educational production function. Using data on British youths from the British Household Panel Survey between 1991 and 2001, this paper attempts to explore the link between ownership of a home computer at ages 15 and 17 and subsequent educational attainment in the principal British school examinations taken at ages 16 (GCSEs) and 18 (A levels). The data show a significant positive associatio n between PC ownership and both the number of GCSEs obtained and the probability of passing five or more GCSEs. These results survive a set of individual, household, and area controls, including using other household durables and \'future\' PC ownership as proxies for household wealth and other unobservable household level effects. Home computer ownership is also associated with a significant increase in the probability of passing at least one A level conditional on having passed five and increase in the probability of successfully completing three or more A levels, conditional on having passed at least one A level.