Television, Cognitive Ability, and High School Completion

Link to article:



Hernæs, Øystein M., Simen Markussen, Knut Røed




The Journal of Human Resources

vol 54(2), 371-400


We exploit supply-driven heterogeneity in the expansion of cable television across Norwegian municipalities to identify developmental effects of commercial television exposure during childhood. We find that higher exposure to commercial television reduces cognitive ability and high school graduation rates for boys. The effects appear to be driven by consumption of light television entertainment crowding out more cognitively stimulating activities. Point estimates suggest that the effects are most negative for boys from more educated families. We find no effect on high school completion for girls, pointing to the growth of non-educational media as a factor in the widening educational gender gap.


J13, J16, J24, L82


Human capital, Media, Education gender gap


Oppdragsgiver: Norges forskningsråd
Oppdragsgivers prosjektnr.: 202513
Frisch prosjekt: 1172 - Social Insurance and Labor Market Inclusion in Norway

Oppdragsgiver: Norges Forskningsråd
Oppdragsgivers prosjektnr.: 236992
Frisch prosjekt: 1178 - Egalitarianism under pressure? New perspectives on inequality and social cohesion