ICT and education: evidence from student home addresses

Publication type

Research Paper


Benjamin Faber, Rosa Sanchis-Guarner and Felix Weinhardt

Publication date

Series Number



Governments are making it a priority to upgrade information and communication technologies (ICT) with the aim to increase
available internet connection speeds. This paper presents a new strategy to estimate the causal effects of these policies, and
applies it to the questions of whether and how ICT upgrades affect educational attainment. We draw on a rich collection of
microdata that allows us to link administrative test score records for the population of English primary and secondary school
students to the available ICT at their home addresses. To base estimations on exogenous variation in ICT, we notice that the
boundaries of usually invisible telephone exchange station catchment areas give rise to substantial and essentially randomly
placed jumps in the available ICT across neighboring residences. Using this design across more than 20,000 boundaries in
England, we find that even very large changes in available internet speeds have a precisely estimated zero effect on educational
attainment. Guided by a simple model we then bring to bear additional microdata on student time and internet use to quantify
the potentially opposing mechanisms underlying the zero reduced form effect. We find that jumps in the available ICT have no
significant effect on student time spent studying online or offline, or on their productivity. Finally, while faster connections
appear to increase student consumption of online content, we find that the elasticity of student demand for online content with
respect to its time cost is negative but bounded by -1.


Information And Communication Technologies, Geography, Young People, Education and Public Policy


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  1. ICT and education: evidence from student home addresses