Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1288: The Impact of Banning Mobile Phones in Swedish Secondary Schools

Dany Kessel (), Hulda Lif Hardardottir and Björn Tyrefors ()
Additional contact information
Dany Kessel: Södertörn University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Hulda Lif Hardardottir: Stockholm University
Björn Tyrefors: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Recently, policy makers worldwide have suggested and passed legislation to ban mobile phone use in schools. The influential (and only quantitative) evaluation by Beland and Murphy (2016), suggests that this is a very low-cost but effective policy to improve student performance. In particular, it suggests that the lowest-achieving students have the most to gain. Using a similar empirical setup but with data from Sweden, we partly replicate their study and thereby add external validity to this policy question. Furthermore, we increase the survey response rate of schools to approximately 75 %, although at the expense of the amount of information collected in the survey. In Sweden, we find no impact of mobile phone bans on student performance and can reject even small-sized gains.

Keywords: Mobile phone ban; Student performance

JEL-codes: I21; I28; J24; O33

35 pages, First version: June 25, 2019. Revised: February 11, 2020.

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