Michele Battisti, 25 February 2021

Are schools triggering diffusion of Covid19? Michele Battisti talks to Tim Phillips about research that uses geolocalised microdata from Sicily to show schools contribute to a significant & positive increase in area cases. You can find the full paper, Schools opening and Covid-19 diffusion: evidence from geolocalized microdata by Emanuele Amodio, Michele Battisti, Andros Kourtellos, Giuseppe Maggio and Carmelo Massimo Maida, in this free issue of CEPR's Covid Economics Papers: cepr.online/CE65

Michele Battisti, Andros Kourtellos, Giuseppe Maggio, 02 February 2021

While the long-run costs of Covid-19-related school closures in terms of human capital losses are sure to be enormous, especially for low-income countries, the benefits in terms of reducing the spread of the virus are less clear. This column investigates the role of schools in the diffusion of Covid-19 using a natural experiment in Sicily, where the reopening of some schools in autumn 2020 was delayed due to a national referendum and local elections. It finds that school openings do appear to increase the number of Covid-19 cases at a local level, although the effects are highly heterogeneous across school, population, and institutional characteristics. Interestingly, the effects disappear when class size is below average.

Chuxuan Sun, Lauren Russell, 22 January 2021

As countries worldwide implemented stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of COVID-19, parents lost access to reliable childcare. This column reviews current research on the disproportionate effects these closures have had on mothers of young children. The findings suggest that these closures may have long-lasting and persistent effects on women, even after the pandemic subsides. 

Elisabeth Grewenig, Philipp Lergetporer, Katharina Werner, Ludger Woessmann, Larissa Zierow, 15 November 2020

A key feature of school closures is that there is no trained educator in the room to help. This column argues that low-achieving students are particularly affected by the lack of teacher support. Based on a German time-use survey, it finds that students on average reduced daily learning time by about half during the school closures. This reduction was significantly larger for low-achieving students, who disproportionately replaced learning time with activities deemed detrimental to child development such as computer gaming rather than with more conducive activities such as reading. 

Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Dirk Krueger, Alexander Ludwig, Irina Popova, 12 November 2020

According to the World Bank, around 1.6 billion school children were affected by Covid-related school and childcare centre closures at their peak. This column uses a model that features public schooling as an input into the human capital production of children, as well as the monetary and time investment of parents into their children. The results suggest that school and childcare closures have significant negative long-term consequences on the human capital and welfare of the affected children, especially those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. The loss in schooling and associated human capital accumulation is harder to offset the longer the crisis lasts.

Per Engzell, Arun Frey, Mark Verhagen, 09 November 2020

School closures have been a common tool in the battle against COVID-19. Yet, their costs and benefits remain largely unknown. This column estimates the ‘learning loss’ that occurred when Dutch schools closed for eight weeks, using national exams that took place just before and after lockdown and similar data from previous years. On average, students lost out on a fifth of a year’s worth of learning. Losses were especially marked among those from disadvantaged homes.

Ban Ki-moon, Erik Berglöf, Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson, 18 August 2020

With over one billion children still out of school because of the lockdown, there is now a real and present danger that the public health crisis will create a COVID generation who lose out on schooling and whose opportunities are permanently damaged. Yet at the very time we need extra resources, education funding is under threat. This letter from over 275 world leaders calls on the G20, the IMF, the World Bank and regional development banks and all countries to recognise the scale of the crisis, and proposes three initiatives to get the most disadvantaged and vulnerable back into education and enable them to catch up.

Ethan Ilzetzki, 05 August 2020

Pupils in schools across the UK have lost up to 105 days of education due to school closures during the COVID-19 lockdown and a second wave of the pandemic, likely in the autumn, may disrupt education further. This column discusses the latest Centre for Macroeconomics survey, in which the panel predicted that the cost to UK economic growth in the will be minor to moderate. However, the panel was unanimous that school closures will increase inequality, with a large majority of the panel predicting a persistent increase in inequality. The panel also predicted harm to gender equality, with many predicting persistent increases in inequality along gender lines.

Daniela Del Boca, Noemi Oggero, Paola Profeta, Mariacristina Rossi, 19 June 2020

The social distancing measures adopted to slow the spread of COVID-19 have placed a particular burden on families. Using survey data collected in April 2020 from a representative sample of Italian women, this column asks how working from home – combined with school closures – has affected the working arrangements, housework, and childcare provisions of couples in which both partners are employed. Most of the additional responsibilities have fallen to women, though childcare activities are shared more equally than housework.

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