Slate's Ray Fisman launches a bomb at the expensive holy cow of free school laptops. "Giving poor kids laptops doesn't improve their scholastic performance" is the cry, summarizing research from economists Ofer Malamud and Cristian Pop-Eleches. The conclusion? Kids just play games on them.
The $100 Distraction Device [Slate]
The two researchers surveyed households that applied to Euro 200, a voucher distribution program in Romania designed to help poor households defray the cost of buying a computer for their children. It turns out that kids in households lucky enough to get computer vouchers spent a lot less time watching TV–but that's where the good news ends. "Vouchered" kids also spent less time doing homework, got lower grades, and reported lower educational aspirations than the "unvouchered" kids.