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Computer usage can affect economic outcomes in two days.

First is the computer skill - knowing


the computer usage that may have effects directing productivity and wages. Second, computer can be
used for learning skills, such as computing, language and science, which can help to give rise to positive
market outcomes.

A literature that is increasing analyzes the first effect, the impact directly of computer skills on
the labor market. According to Krueger (1993), computer use by workers is to relate an expected wage
of 10 to 15 percent higher in cross-sectional data. Nonetheless, DiNardo and Pischke (1997) criticized
that this finding reflects true returns to computer skills, as a wage similar to differentials that can be
found on the use of devices such as telephones and pencils. Using the matched employer to employee
panel data to identify the causal effect of computer skills on wages, Entorf, Gollac and Kramarz (1999)
showed that the cross sectional wage differential in favor of computer users is nearly entirely due to a
selection bias of the high-skilled workers into computer using employments.

Recently, Borghans and ter Weel (2004) duplicate the finding that the ability to effectively use a
computer has no substantial impact on wages. Meantime, they showed that math and writing abilities
do yield significant returns on the labor market. Hence, they suggest that math and writing can be
regarded as basic productive skills, while computer skills cannot.

Given that computer skills do not imply to have direct returns on the labor market, but more
basic skills do, the possible influence of computers on learning skills such as math, language and science
is an interesting topic. The current evidence focuses on the effect of classroom computers on student
achievement, showing different results at best. Analysis of observational studies such as Cuban (1993),
Oppenheimer (1997) and Kirkpatrick and Cuban (1998) tend towards a negative judgement of the
potential of using computers for instructional purposes in classrooms to improve students’ educational
achievement.

Wenglinsky (1998) and Angrist and Lavy (2002) even reported negative effects of computer use
in schools on a few student achievement measure. The quasi-experimental study of Angrist and Lavy
(2002) discovers that the introduction of computer-aided instruction in Israeli schools utilized a
statistically serious negative effect on the math achievement of fourth grade students and a negative
but statistically ordinary effect on student achievement in other subjects and higher grades. Current
studies by Borman and Rachuba (2001) and Rouse and Krueger (2004) evaluate randomized experiment
of computerized reading instructions, finding that noteworthy effects of computerized instruction can
be ruled out.

Thus, the information so far does not suggest that computers have a serious effect on the
economic and educational outcome of individuals, neither in terms of student learning nor in terms of
worker wages. Despite many claims by politicians and software vendors to the contrary, the evidence so
far indicates that computer use in schools does not seem to contribute considerably to students’
learning of basic skills.
Krueger, Alan B. (1993). How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata,
1984-1989. Quarterly Journal of Economics 108 (1): 33-60.

DiNardo, John E., Jörn-Steffen Pischke (1997). The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils
Changed the Wage Structure Too? Quarterly Journal of Economics 112 (1): 291-303.

Entorf, Horst, Michel Gollac, Francis Kramarz (1999). New Technologies, Wages, and Worker Selection.
Journal of Labor Economics 17 (3): 464-491.

Borghans, Lex, Bas ter Weel (2004). Are Computer Skills the New Basic Skills? The Returns to Computer,
Writing and Math Skills in Britain. Labour Economics 11 (1): 85-98.

Cuban, Larry (1993). Computers Meet Classroom: Classroom Wins. Teachers College Record 95 (2): 185-
210.

Oppenheimer, Todd (1997). The Computer Delusion. Atlantic Monthly 280 (1), July.

Kirkpatrick, Heather, Larry Cuban (1998). Computers Make Kids Smarter – Right? Technos Quarterly 7
(2). [http://www.technos.net/tq_07/2cuban.htm]

Wenglinsky, Harold (1998). Does It Compute? The Relationship Between Educational Technology and
Achievement in Mathematics. Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Center, Research Division, Educational
Testing Service.

Angrist, Joshua, Victor Lavy (2002). New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning.
Economic Journal 112 (482): 735-765.

Borman, Geoffrey D., Laura T. Rachuba (2001). Evaluation of the Scientific Learning Corporation’s
FastForWord Computer-Based Training Program in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Report Prepared
for the Abell Foundation.

Rouse, Cecilia E., Alan B. Krueger, with Lisa Markman (2004). Putting Computerized Instruction to the
Test: A Randomized Evaluation of a “Scientifically-based” Reading Program. NBER Working Paper 10315.
Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.