Comparing marginal effects of Chilean students' economic, social and cultural status on digital versus reading and mathematics performance

This paper provides evidence that helps understand the digital divide in education. It does so by comparing the effect of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS) on the digital skills of Chilean students compared with mathematics and language. This comparison is made using national standardized tests. The marginal effect of a group of variables measuring student ESCS was compared both as a whole and separately using multivariate linear regression analysis. The results show that the marginal effect of ESCS as a whole on students' digital skills was equal to the effect on mathematics and greater than the effect on language. Furthermore, the results show that the parents' level of education was the most relevant factor of ESCS for explaining student performance on the digital test, more so than for mathematics and language. These findings challenge the belief that the Internet would reduce economic, social and cultural inequalities in new generations. Instead, they reveal that the gap among Chilean students tends to perpetuate or widen when comparing performance in mathematics and language with performance in the digital domain. At the same time, by comparing national test results, this paper offers empirical evidence for the existence of a second digital divide in the field of education, a concept which is widely discussed at a theoretical level but with little empirical support to date.

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