Santo Milasi, Martina Bisello, John Hurley, Matteo Sostero, Enrique Fernández-Macías, 14 August 2020

The growth in teleworking seen during the Covid-19 crisis has been strongly skewed towards highly paid occupations and white-collar employment, raising concerns about the emergence of a new divide between those who can work remotely and those who cannot. Nonetheless, enforced closures of economic activities due to confinement measures resulted in many new teleworkers amongst low and mid-level clerical and administrative workers who previously had limited access to this working arrangement. This column presents new estimates of the share of teleworkable employment in the EU and discusses factors determining the gap between actual and potential teleworking – including elements of work organisation. It also discusses how telework patterns could develop in the future and related policy implications.

Ofer Malamud, Santiago Cueto, Julian Cristia, Diether W. Beuermann, 08 March 2019

Many governments and NGOs have invested substantial resources in expanding internet access to children in developing countries. This column reports on an experiment in Peru in which laptops and access to the internet were provided to schoolchildren. While those selected to receive a laptop did improve their digital skills, the results suggest that increased access to the internet at home did not improve academic achievement, cognitive or socio-emotional skills, which are arguably the more important outcomes of such interventions.

Alessandro Gavazza, Mattia Nardotto, Tommaso Valletti, 31 January 2016

The internet is lauded for increasing access to information, but it is unclear whether this translates into a better-informed and more engaged voting populace. This column uses UK data to determine how the internet has changed voting patterns and aggregate policy choices. Internet penetration is found to be associated with a decrease in voter turnout, mainly among the lower socioeconomic demographic. Internet diffusion is also found to reduce local government expenditure, in particular on policies targeting less-educated voters. These findings point to a trade-off between the ‘digital divide’ and the ‘political divide’.

Ofer Malamud, Cristian Pop-Eleches, 21 July 2010

Do policies to bridge the digital divide, such as the One Laptop per Child programme, work? This column analyses a scheme offering vouchers for home computers to low-income families in Romania. It finds that while children’s computer skills and cognitive ability increased, academic achievement fell, suggesting that such policies should not overlook how children use these computers and the role played by parents.

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