Television and Academic Achievement: Evidence from the Digital Television Transition in the UK
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This paper uses exogenous variation in the transition date from analogue to digital television signal in the UK across more than 32,000 geographical units to examine the causal impact of television on academic performance and potential mechanisms. Using TV market data, I first show that the digital transition considerably increases TV viewing time. The second part of the analysis uses a large administrative dataset on the universe of students in state-funded education in England to show that the switchover increases pupil test scores and that the effect is driven by economically disadvantaged students and low achievers. Lastly, I use a panel survey dataset at the individual level and show that the digital transition reduces the probability of children taking part in detrimental activities, such as alcohol drinking. I test for multiple additional mechanisms, but find no effect of television on these alternative outcomes.