American Economic Review: Vol. 104 No. 5 (May 2014)

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Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education

Article Citation

Acemoglu, Daron, David Laibson, and John A. List. 2014. "Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education." American Economic Review, 104(5): 523-27.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.5.523

Abstract

Internet-based educational resources are proliferating rapidly. One concern associated with these (potentially transformative) technological changes is that they will be disequalizing—as many technologies of the last several decades have been—creating superstar teachers and a winner-take-all education system. These important concerns notwithstanding, we contend that a major impact of web-based educational technologies will be the democratization of education: educational resources will be more equally distributed, and lower-skilled teachers will benefit. At the root of our results is the observation that skilled lecturers can only exploit their comparative advantage if other teachers complement those lectures with face-to-face instruction. This complementarity will increase the quantity and quality of face-to-face teaching services, potentially increasing the marginal product and wages of lower-skill teachers.

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Authors

Acemoglu, Daron (MIT)
Laibson, David (Harvard U)
List, John A. (U Chicago)

JEL Classifications

I21: Analysis of Education
I23: Higher Education; Research Institutions
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
J44: Professional Labor Markets; Occupational Licensing
J45: Public Sector Labor Markets
J31: Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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