The Economic Cost of School Closures

Question 1:What damage will school closures have on economic growth over a 10-15 year horizon?

Question 2: To what extent will school closures increase inequality in human capital development?

Question 3: To what extent will school closures increase gender inequality due to unequal gender distribution of the burden of school closures?

Summary

Pupils in schools across the UK have lost up to 105 days of education due to school closures during the COVID-19 lockdown. A second wave of the pandemic, likely in the autumn, may disrupt education further. The CfM panel predicts that the cost to UK economic growth in the will be minor to moderate. However, the panel is unanimous that school closures will increase inequality, with a large majority of the panel predicting a persistent increase in inequality. The panel also predicts harm to gender equality, with many predicting persistent increases in inequality along gender lines.

Background

The July 2020 CfM survey asked its panel to assess the harm caused by UK school closures. Panellists were first asked about the damage to UK economic growth over a 10-15 year horizon. They were then asked how school closures might affect inequality along socio-economic and gender lines.

The Great School Lockdown                                                          

Schools across the UK have been closed to most students since March 2020. Schools are scheduled to reopen in September, according to Department for Education guidelines, but concerns about further school closures remain as a second wave of the pandemic is a distinct possibility in the autumn.

There is an open epidemiological debate on the effect of school openings on the rate of COVID-19 spread. Evidence from Saxony in Germany showed a very low infection rate for students and staff when schools reopened, although the researchers note that the infection rate in Saxony was low overall. Contact tracing in South Korea indicates that children under the age of 10 are far less likely to spread the virus, but that teenaged children pose similar risks as do adults. Of course, risks likely depend on the safeguarding measures put in place when schools re-open.   

While school closures may benefit society through a lower rate of pandemic spread, there are also educational costs to pupils. UCL’s Institute of Education estimates that children have been spending an average of only 2.5 hours a day on schoolwork, with 71% of state school children receiving no more than one online lesson a day. Further, there are large disparities across income groups and UK regions. Burgess and Vignoles (2020) estimate that the poorest quintile of pupils may see 7 fewer school days’ worth of time spent on education than their richest counterparts. Green (2020) states that children eligible for free school meals are almost three times as likely to lack access to a computer at home as ineligible children. This makes access to offline schoolwork more important for poorer families. Cullinane and Montacute (2020) find that working-class children are also less likely (by a ten-percentage-point margin) to receive homeschooling from their parents than are middle-class children. Regional deprivation reflects similar inequities, with pupils in the poorer North East region almost half as likely to receive at least 4 pieces of offline schoolwork as pupils nationwide (Green 2020).

Only a few studies investigate the educational damage caused by school closures due to a pandemic. Meyers and Thomasson (2017) establish lower levels of educational attainment by 1940 amongst children aged 14-17 during the 1916 polio pandemic, compared to their older peers. Studies from other settings suggest that school closures do have effects on test scores, but evidence on longer-term outcomes are less clear. In this context, Carlsson et al (2015) indicate that 10 days of extra schooling leads to a score improvement in tests of crystallized intelligence, i.e. the use of knowledge, by 1% of a standard deviation. Lavy (2015) finds that an extra hour of teaching on a weekly basis can improve main subject test scores by 6% of a standard deviation, indicating the importance of regularity. The timing of education disruption in a child’s life also appears important, with more negative impacts on attainment observed for older students (Baker 2011). Further, an extensive literature on the effect of summer holidays on educational attainment suggests that low-income pupils are more affected by discontinuities in frontal education (Cooper et al 1996).

School closures also have implications for gender inequality as well. Hupkau and Petrongolo (2020) report survey evidence that the majority of childcare responsibilities fall on women. ONS time-use surveys confirm this fact, showing that women spent twice as much time on childcare as men did. The time spent on developmental childcare (including home-schooling) by parents nearly tripled relative to a similar survey in 2015. This is on top of the fact that the economic fallout from COVID-19 was more severe in sectors where women are a larger share of the workforce. Alon et al (2020) forecast that the damage to gender equality could end up being permanent, but also point to changes in work culture due to the lockdowns that may favour women’s labour market participation.

The panel was asked to express opinions on the effects of school closures. To fix ideas, the panel was asked to take as a baseline scenario that the pandemic will lead to an additional 50 lost school days in the upcoming school year on top of the 105 lost school days this past school year.

Question 1: What damage will school closures have on economic growth over a 10-15 year horizon?

Twenty-five panellists responded to this question. The majority of panellists (52%) believe that there will be no (4%) or minor (48%) damage to economic growth. Most of the remaining participants predict only a moderate effect on growth.

The panel’s views were driven by lack of evidence of a direct and large relationship between the quantity (as opposed to quality) of schooling and economic growth. Martin Ellison (University of Oxford) cites work by Sianesi and Van Reenen showing that a year of schooling causes a 1% increase in economic growth. Ellison estimates that “the current UK workforce is about 30 million and just short of 9 million children are in UK schools, so even if all pupils lost a whole year of education the effect on GDP and growth would be limited.” Ricardo Reis (London School of Economics) conducts similar calculations and summarizes that “the best estimates I know of, from Caselli and Ciccone, show that extra schooling has a moderate impact on the level of income.” Costas Milas (University of Liverpool) cites his own work (Dergiades et al 2020) that shows that growth would decline by 0.2%-1% due to school closures. The research also points out that there are benefits to school closures, which are estimated to have had a large impact on containing the spread of the coronavirus. Morten Ravn (University College London) adds that “empirical evidence shows that what matters for economic growth is not years of schooling as such but the development of cognitive skills. Thus, with appropriate mitigation, costs do not need to be large. Such measures would also include allowing children that cannot be supported by parents or carers back to school even now.”

Less optimistic panellists viewed the arithmetic slightly differently. Angus Armstrong (National Institute of Economic and Social Research) argues that “a year of schooling [lost] is a large cost, albeit spread over lifetime earnings,” particularly in interaction with social and regional inequities. David Miles (Imperial College London) establishes that children aged 5 to 18 who are subject to school closures “could make up around 25% to 30% of the workforce” in 15 years. He concludes: “If the lasting damage to their productivity and job prospects is only a few percentage points - say 3% to 6% - it will mean GDP is then lower by a percent or two.”

Other panellists expressed concern that school closures may have other and indirect effects on economic growth and human development. Dawn Holland (NIESR) contends that “labour force withdrawal or extended periods of unemployment among parents of young children who have been unable to work for childcare reasons while children are not in school” may hamper economic growth. Jagjit Chadha, also of the NIESR, “[worries] about the loss of extra-curricular [activities] and sport, which may be just as important to long-run wellbeing as teaching.” On human development, Wendy Carlin (University College London) sees “attrition of the teaching workforce and on recruitment into teaching” as a “possibly important” effect which merits further research.

Question 2: To what extent will school closures increase inequality in human capital development?

Twenty-five panel members responded to this question. The panel was unanimous that school closures would increase inequality. The panel was evenly split between those predicting small and large effects on inequality, although the latter express greater degrees of confidence in their responses. Further, a large majority (72%) of the panel predicts long-lasting damage to equality.

The panel’s responses pointed to the role of (face-to-face) schooling as an equalizing force in society. As Jagjit Chadha explains: “The access to good educational support online and to parental guidance is not equally distributed in the UK. To the extent that physical presence at good schools provides an opportunity to address equality, its absence may act to [reinforce] some of the loss of incomes and opportunities that this crisis is creating for those in low-income jobs, which are more likely to be at risk at this time.” Angus Armstrong goes further, saying that “inequalities at an early age cast the longest shadow because of cumulative consequences (‘we learn to read then read to learn’). This will interact with the additional burden being on those in low-skilled work and the lack of resources at home. The effects are likely to be most severe for those just starting school.”

Further, the effect of school closures is likely to be more acute for pupils from less advantaged backgrounds. As Natalie Chen (University of Warwick) puts it: “Children from poorer households are less likely to receive help and support from their parents and have less access to the internet or to a computer at home. I feel that for them it will be more difficult to return to normality after a long break from education.” Morten Ravn (University College London) adds that “children from less privileged backgrounds will have worse physical facilities (accommodation, computers etc.) and their parents will be less able to aid their educational needs than [those of] children from more privileged backgrounds.” Wouter den Haan (London School of Economics) concludes: “It already is the case that talented kids from disadvantaged neighbourhoods have a hard time of getting into the better jobs and higher-education institutions. School closures will make it harder for these kids to prove they do have the skills.”

Several panellists noted that that the government could play an important role in mitigating the effects of school closures on inequality. Morten Ravn (University College London) uses this to qualify his response (the effect on inequality in human capital development will be small but persistent): “My answer is based on the assumptions that: (a) The duration of school closures does not stretch into the next academic year, and (b) mitigating policies. Without these, effects could be large.” As suggested by Martin Ellison (University of Oxford), “Much will depend on the response of government policy, which unfortunately does not bode well for inequality (not providing laptops for disadvantaged pupils etc.). If the government [were] sufficiently committed to its “levelling up” agenda then the increase in inequality could conceivably be offset.”

Question 3: To what extent will school closures increase gender inequality due to unequal gender distribution of the burden of school closures?

Twenty-four panel members responded to this question. The panel was nearly unanimous that school closures would increase gender inequality. A large majority (67%) predicted a small increase in gender inequality and the panel was roughly evenly split between those predicting temporary or persistent effects. The most common response (38% or 42% when weighted by respondents’ degree of confidence) was that school closures would cause a small but persistent increase in gender inequality.

The case for persistent effects on gender inequality arises from the potential for lasting effects of even short career disruptions. Dawn Holland (NIESR) notes that “the additional childcare burden associated with school closures is likely to have fallen more heavily on women, and may lead to labour force withdrawal or extended periods of unemployment.” Francesca Monti (Kings College London) adds that “The effect of further disengagement from the labour force is sure to affect their career prospects permanently.” Martin Ellison (University of Oxford) and Morten Ravn (University College London) both point to evidence of the effects of childbirth on women’s long run earnings.  In contrast, Natalie Chen expresses greater optimism: “The burden of homeschooling and housework has fallen in a disproportionate way on women. Gender inequality therefore widens. But the day things get back to some normality (as I hope they will), children will be back in school and women at work so the inequality in the longer run should to some extent dissipate.”

However, respondents also pointed to changes in work culture that could have a positive mitigating effect. Francesca Monti (Kings College London) notes that “the pandemic has normalized teleworking, and this could, in the medium run, have positive effects on the sharing of caring responsibilities.” Dawn Holland (NIESR) concurs that the negative effects of unequal childrearing burdens during the lockdown “may be partially offset by a change in workplace attitudes towards working from home.”

Finally, a number of respondents pointed again to the role of public policy. Wouter den Haan (London School of Economics) expresses hope that “we can make the negative impact [temporary] but it will require institutions to recognize this and to take compensating actions.” Morten Ravn (University College London) adds that “mitigation needs to take place. Policy needs to address the issue. Without that, and in case the pandemic continues for long, effects could be large. With mitigating policies, I think there will still be effects on women with small children for a long time. There is evidence that parental leave harms women’s - but not men’s - earnings persistently. The impact of the pandemic should be similar to such estimates.”

References

Alon, Titan M., et al. "The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality." NBER Working Paper Series, no. 26947, Apr. 2020, www.nber.org/papers/w26947.pdf.

Baker, Michael. "Industrial Actions in Schools: Strikes and Student Achievement." NBER Working Paper Series, no. 16846, Mar. 2011, www.nber.org/papers/w16846.pdf.

Burgess, Simon, and Anna Vignoles. "The Covid-19 Crisis and Educational Inequality." UCL Blogs, UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, 22 May 2020, blogs.ucl.ac.uk/cepeo/2020/05/22/the-covid-19-crisis-and-educational-inequality/.

Carlsson, Magnus, et al. "The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills." Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 97, no. 3, July 2015, pp. 533-547, doi:10.1162/REST_a_00501.

Cooper, Harris, et al. "The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review." Review of Educational Research, vol. 66, no. 3, Sept. 1996, pp. 227-268, doi:10.3102/00346543066003227.

Cullinane, Carl, and Rebecca Montacute. COVID-19 and Social Mobility Impact Brief #1: School Shutdown. The Sutton Trust, 2020. www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Impact-Brief-Sch....

Green, Francis. "Schoolwork in Lockdown: New Evidence on the Epidemic of Educational Poverty." LLAKES Research Papers, no. 67, 2020, www.llakes.ac.uk/sites/default/files/LLAKES%20Working%20Paper%2067_0.pdf.

Hupkau, Claudia, and Barbara Petrongolo. "COVID-19 and Gender Gaps: Latest Evidence and Lessons from the UK." VoxEU.org, 22 Apr. 2020, voxeu.org/article/covid-19-and-gender-gaps-latest-evidence-and-lessons-uk.

Lavy, Victor. "Do Differences in Schools’ Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries." The Economic Journal, vol. 125, no. 588, Nov. 2015, pp. F397-F424, doi:10.1111/ecoj.12233.

Meyers, Keith, and Melissa A. Thomasson. "Paralyzed by Panic: Measuring the Effect of School Closures during the 1916 Polio Pandemic on Educational Attainment." NBER Working Paper Series, no. 23890, Sept. 2017, www.nber.org/papers/w23890.pdf.

Office for National Statistics. "Parenting in Lockdown: Coronavirus and the Effects on Work-Life Balance." Office for National Statistics, 22 July 2020, www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditio....

 

 

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How the experts responded

Question 1

Participant Answer Confidence level Comment
Jumana Saleheen's picture Jumana Saleheen CRU Group Minor Confident
I think 10-15 year is a long enough time horizon for any adverse impact of temporary school closures on human capital, and aggregate economic growth to be made up. That said if there are repeated school closures over an extended period of time (say 12-18 months), the impact could be larger.
David Cobham's picture David Cobham Heriot Watt University Minor Not confident
Martin Ellison's picture Martin Ellison University of Oxford Minor Very confident
There are not enough children in school for the damage to be large. Sianesi and Van Reenen (2003, Journal of Economic Surveys) estimate that an extra year of average education of the labour force raises output/capita by 3-6% and growth by 1%. The current UK workforce is about 30 million and just short of 9 million children are in UK schools, so even if all pupils lost a whole year of education the effect on GDP and growth would be limited. In 10 years’ time almost all of those affected by the school closures will be in the labour force, but there will be 20 million still in the labour force who are unaffected, so a generous upper bound on the size of the effect is 1/3 of what Sianese and Van Reenen estimate, i.e. GDP some 2% lower and growth reduced by 1/3%.
Nicholas Oulton's picture Nicholas Oulton London School of Economics Moderate Not confident
In theory the lost time could be made up over several years but given the obstructive attitude that teachers and teaching unions haved displayed so far I doubt that it will be. Their attitude contrasts strongly with that of NHS staff who have thrown themselves into the fight against the virus, often at considerable personal risk. Having said that I think the economic damage due to lost schooling is likely to be quite small in comparison to other causes of damage. After all the global financial crisis has had a devastating effect on growth but without any loss of schooling.
Francesca Monti's picture Francesca Monti Kings College London Moderate Not confident
School closures affect economic growth in two main ways: by reducing children's educational attainment (disproportionately for lower income households) and by affecting persistently the carrier prospects of the main carers of children (generally women). The mapping from little fluctuations in standardised tests scores into aggregate economic outcomes is not that obvious however. The effect coming from the disruption of the carriers of the main carers seems to me to be more clear cut.
Ricardo Reis's picture Ricardo Reis London School of Economics Minor Not confident
The baseline correlation from the work of Barro and others suggests that a loss of 1/2 year of school attainment would lower economic growth by about 0.15%. Work by Bils and Klenow though suggest that the causal effect is at most 1/3 of that, lowering the impact to 0.05%. This is minor in terms of growth, what the question asks for. But in terms of output levels, it can be significant so "moderate" would be a more appropriate choice. The best estimates I know of, from Caselli and Ciccone, show that extra schooling has a moderate impact on the level of income.
Rachel Ngai's picture Rachel Ngai London School of Economics Moderate Confident
Ethan Ilzetzki's picture Ethan Ilzetzki London School of Economics Minor Not confident
While school closures have certainly been damaging to pupils education, and HMG has done very little to mitigate this damage, it is very difficult to estimate the costs to economic growth.
Jagjit Chadha's picture Jagjit Chadha National Institute of Economic and Social Research Minor Not confident
The impact on medium to long run economic growth will obviously depend on the scale and length of school closures. But also on the extent to which on-line provision can provide a good substitute for an extended period. I am worried about the loss of extra-curricular and sport, which may be just as important to long run well being as classroom teaching.
Roger Farmer's picture Roger Farmer University of Warwick None Confident
“Economic growth” is a nebulous concept. If measured by year on year real GDP growth, it is already a statistic with a very high variance. One year of lost schooling will at best show up as a rounding error over a 10 to 15 year horizon. If the closures were to persist for several years, they would begin to have serious consequences not just for economic growth, but for the broader social fabric.
Michael Wickens's picture Michael Wickens Cardiff Business School & University of York Minor Confident
Too long a time period to have much affect
Chryssi Giannitsarou's picture Chryssi Giannitsarou University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics Moderate Confident
Natalie Chen's picture Natalie Chen University of Warwick Moderate Confident
I think the effect on economic growth should be moderate because the effect of school closures will be very unequal across different types of children. While the poorer children are likely to be more negatively affected, the children from wealthier and more educated households continue to learn at home (even if less than in normal times) and should therefore be able to catch up once they return to school.
Angus Armstrong's picture Angus Armstrong National Institute of Economic and Social Research Large Confident
A year of schooling is a large cost, albeit spread over life time earnings. Temporary school closures are also likely to interact with the already unequal costs of the virus across society and thereby widen social and regional disparities.
Wendy Carlin's picture Wendy Carlin University College London Minor Not confident
There are a great many factors intervening between school closures and economic growth over that horizon; and growth itself is very difficult to predict. Possibly important is the effect of prolonged school closures on attrition of the teaching workforce and on recruitment into teaching. It would be good to see research on that.
Paul De Grauwe's picture Paul De Grauwe London School of Economics Minor Confident
David Miles's picture David Miles Imperial College Moderate Confident
In terms of aggregate growth the impacts will probably be moderate but not trivial. Cohorts with current ages from 5 to 18 have been affected by school closures. Fifteen years from now they will be aged 20 to 33 so the great majority will be of working age. They could make up around 25% to 30% of the workforce. If the lasting damage to their productivity and job prospects is only a few percentage points - say 3% to 6% - it will mean GDP is then lower by a percent or two.
Morten Ravn's picture Morten Ravn University College London No opinion Confident
Education is key for properity, better education produces knowledge and allows for social mobility. However, whether the school closures will impact on growth over a 10-15 year horizon will clearly depend on mitigating policies. - If resources were invested in providing kids with computers, top quality on-line teaching, etc., then the impact does not need to be large. Empirical evidence shows that what matters for economic growth is not years of schooling as such but the development of cognitive skills. Thus, with appropriate mitigation, costs do not need to be large. Such measures would also include allowing children that cannot be supported by parents or carers back to school even now. This would include children whose parents may have health problems, children without appropriate acocomodation etc. Efforts should also be made to make sure that women do not carry the majority of costs. - All this said: (a) Bringing kids back to school should have high priority but needs to be subject to the pandemic, (b) If school closures are implemented without mitigating policies, costs can be very high. There is a lot of evidence that education => cognitive skills => growth and the effects are large.
Wouter Den Haan's picture Wouter Den Haan London School of Economics Moderate Confident
We know that education matters and I can only expect that globalisation has made the educational attainment of the UK more important.
Dawn Holland's picture Dawn Holland NIESR Moderate Not confident
There is likely to be some permanent impact on the accumulation of human capital as a result of school closures, especially among younger pupils. What may have an even bigger impact on economic growth is labour force withdrawal or extended periods of unemployment among parents of young children who have been unable to work for childcare reasons while children are not in school.
Gino A. Gancia's picture Gino A. Gancia Queen Mary University of London Minor Not confident
Kate Barker's picture Kate Barker British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme Minor Not confident
Costas Milas's picture Costas Milas University of Liverpool Minor Confident
Negligible to minor over 10 to 15 years. In a brand new working paper, co-authors and I (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3602004) review the recent literature which finds that, based on previous pandemics, costs of school closures are estimated between 0.2% and 1% of UK national gross domestic product per annum for school closures of 12-13 weeks. The real question here is: can we have meaningful social distancing at school? The answer, of course, is obvious...
Lucio Sarno's picture Lucio Sarno Cass Business School Large Very confident
Linda Yueh's picture Linda Yueh London Business School No opinion Not confident

Question 2

Participant Answer Confidence level Comment
Jumana Saleheen's picture Jumana Saleheen CRU Group To a small degree but persistently Confident
School closures will impact some children more than others, and therefore increase inequality in education in the short-term and longer-term. Children taking national exams next year (GCSE and A ‘levels) are most vulnerable. Younger children will be less affected as have more time to ‘catch-up’. Children from private schools are less vulnerable, as fee-paying schools have provided a full day of online schooling, starting from assembly to lessons throughout the day. They have provided ample interaction with teachers and other students. That has not been the case in state schools. Here work has been set online but left to children to complete, making support from parents crucial. Anecdote suggests that that support has varied by parental education and income, with those at the upper end providing more support. Academic evidence finds strong feedback loops in educational attainment - good teaching improves educational outcomes, which in turn gives rise to more opportunities. School closures of 4 months are sufficient to have a persistent impact on educational inequality.
David Cobham's picture David Cobham Heriot Watt University By a large amount and persistently Confident
Martin Ellison's picture Martin Ellison University of Oxford To a small degree but persistently Confident
The UK already has significant within cohort inequality, with pupils having widely different educational experiences depending on socio-economic class, location, parental resources and engagement, and so on. School closures exacerbate these differences and add inequality across cohorts to the mix. A pupil from a disadvantaged background loses out two-fold, both relative to their peers is less-disadvantaged areas and relative even to other generations of disadvantaged pupils. Much will depend on the response of government policy, which unfortunately does not bode well for inequality (not providing laptops for disadvantaged pupils etc.). If the government was sufficiently committed to its “levelling up” agenda then the increase in inequality could conceivably be offset.
Francesca Monti's picture Francesca Monti Kings College London To a small degree but persistently Confident
The effects of school closures will presumably be felt disproportionately more by children of lower socio-economic background: their schools have offered less online teaching, they have been less able to take advantage of such offering, when it was available, because of constraints on the technology needed (e.g. unavailability of devices or internet in the household), their parents might have had less time and/or knowledge to support them in their learning. Even if the effects on each child's educational attainment are small, the differences across students will be exacerbated and, I believe, these differences will be persistent.
Nicholas Oulton's picture Nicholas Oulton London School of Economics To a small degree but persistently Not confident
Ricardo Reis's picture Ricardo Reis London School of Economics To a small degree but persistently Not confident
The estimates that I know of are understandably more imprecise than the ones on growth and income that I described in the previous answer, but still the impact would be small. More worrying is that the models of inequality that I am familiar with tend to suggest effects that are very persistent.
Rachel Ngai's picture Rachel Ngai London School of Economics By a large amount and persistently Very confident
Ethan Ilzetzki's picture Ethan Ilzetzki London School of Economics By a large amount and persistently Not confident
Schools have been closed for roughly one third of a year. Evidence from summer holidays is clear that closures cause a lot of forgetting, so that the damage to less advantaged pupils without home schooling resources is already roughly equivalent to one year of lost school. This contrasts with higher income pupils in private education, who received numerous hours of online lessons during this time. It is very likely that schools will be closed again in the fall. The government has made a conscious decision that opening (and subsidising!) pubs and restaurants is more important than children's education. These hasty policies risk a second wave that will likely lead to further school closures. The damage to the education of low-income children is irreparable.
Jagjit Chadha's picture Jagjit Chadha National Institute of Economic and Social Research To a small degree but persistently Confident
The access to good educational support on-line and to parental guidance is not equally distributed in the UK. To the extent that physical presence at good schools provides an opportunity to address equality, its absence may act to re-enforce some of the loss of incomes and opportunities that this crisis is creating for those in low income jobs, which are more likely to be at risk at this time.
Michael Wickens's picture Michael Wickens Cardiff Business School & University of York By a large amount but temporarily Confident
The inequality is of two sorts. This generation of pupils will be disadvantaged compared with previous generations. Due to the on-line learning provided, private school pupils will be less disadvantaged than those of state schools whose teachers seem to have shown far less concern for their pupils and many of whose pupils will not have on-line learning facilities.
Roger Farmer's picture Roger Farmer University of Warwick To a small degree and temporarily Confident
See my answer to 1. Social structures, like human bodies, heal quickly in response to minor abrasions.
Chryssi Giannitsarou's picture Chryssi Giannitsarou University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics By a large amount and persistently Confident
Natalie Chen's picture Natalie Chen University of Warwick By a large amount but temporarily Confident
Children from poorer households are less likely to receive help and support from their parents and have less access to the internet or to a computer at home. I feel that for them it will be more difficult to return to normality after a long break from education. Children from wealthier households continue to learn at home (even if less than usual) but there is some continuity in their education. Therefore I feel that inequality will go up.
Angus Armstrong's picture Angus Armstrong National Institute of Economic and Social Research By a large amount and persistently Confident
Inequalities at an early age cast the longest shadow because of cumulative consequences ('we learn to read then read to learn'). This will interact with the additional burden being on those in low skilled work and the lack of resources at home. The effects are likely to be most severe for those just starting school.
Wendy Carlin's picture Wendy Carlin University College London To a small degree but persistently Not confident
The evidence suggests this will be especially the case for young children missing out on school.
Paul De Grauwe's picture Paul De Grauwe London School of Economics To a small degree and temporarily Confident
David Miles's picture David Miles Imperial College By a large amount and persistently Confident
The damage to education done by school closures has been very unequal - the least well off have been set back by the most. Evidence suggests that 6 months of virtually no schooling is very damaging to future incomes, and many of those from the poorest groups seem to have experienced something close to that.
Morten Ravn's picture Morten Ravn University College London To a small degree but persistently Confident
My answre is based on the assumptions that: (a) The duration of school closures does not stretch into the next academic year, and (b) mitigating policies. Without these, effects could be large. Why is there an impact on inequality? Because children from less priviledged backgrounds will have worse physical facilities (accomodation, computers etc.) and their parents will be less able to aid their educational needs than children from more priviledged backgrounds. Schools should be opened to cater for the children from the most under privileged backgrounds including children whose parents have health problems, children without approriate accomodation etc.
Wouter Den Haan's picture Wouter Den Haan London School of Economics By a large amount and persistently Confident
It already is the case that talented kids from disadvantaged neighbourhoods have a hard time of getting into the better jobs and higher-education institutions. School closures will make it harder for these kids to prove they do have the skills.
Dawn Holland's picture Dawn Holland NIESR By a large amount and persistently Confident
At all levels of education, it will be difficult to bridge the gap that has developed between children who have had strong homeschooling support, access to home computers and active online schooling, and children who have not had these benefits.
Gino A. Gancia's picture Gino A. Gancia Queen Mary University of London By a large amount but temporarily Not confident
Kate Barker's picture Kate Barker British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme To a small degree but persistently Not confident
Costas Milas's picture Costas Milas University of Liverpool By a large amount but temporarily Confident
Lucio Sarno's picture Lucio Sarno Cass Business School To a small degree but persistently Confident
Linda Yueh's picture Linda Yueh London Business School No opinion Confident
Depends on a number of variables, including duration of closures, online education, etc.

Question 3

Participant Answer Confidence level Comment
Jumana Saleheen's picture Jumana Saleheen CRU Group To a small degree and temporarily Confident
There is no doubt that school closures have increased gender inequality. Anecdotal evidence from the recent period is that children are more likely to interrupt their mothers on a zoom call than they are to interrupt their fathers. It is unclear what is the source of this difference, and how much lies on the parent’s behaviours (e.g. maternal instinct) and how much is it due to the child’s behaviour (go to the person who is most likely to help). But I think the impact here will be more temporary than persistent, as and when we return to normal life.
Martin Ellison's picture Martin Ellison University of Oxford To a small degree but persistently Confident
The labour market outcomes of new mothers are heavily influenced by what happens in the years that immediate follow childbirth. If mothers retain a connection with the workplace, for example by working at least part-time, then it is possible to return to their previous career trajectory. However, if they spend time out of the labour force then they typically do not return to their previous position. In part this may be a conscious choice, but to the extent that it is forced upon mothers (e.g. by the lack of affordable childcare or other factors) it is likely to engender unwanted gender inequality. The danger with school closures is that it will lead to more of the latter compulsion. Gender norms are still deeply embedded in society, and the burden of childcare will often fall on the mother to the detriment of her career relative to men.
David Cobham's picture David Cobham Heriot Watt University To a small degree but persistently Confident
Francesca Monti's picture Francesca Monti Kings College London To a small degree but persistently Very confident
The burden of school closures is certain to affect women disproportionately. Women are often the main carers of children and will probably already have done choices that put them in the position of being the element in the household who can absorb the additional caring responsibilities. The effect of further disengagement from the labour force is sure to affect their career prospects permanently. On the other hand, the pandemic has normalised teleworking, and this could, in the medium run, have positive effects on the sharing of caring responsibilities.
Nicholas Oulton's picture Nicholas Oulton London School of Economics To a small degree and temporarily Not confident
Ricardo Reis's picture Ricardo Reis London School of Economics By a large amount but temporarily Not confident at all
The two studies mentioned in the question are also the only two that I know in this area. My readings of them is that it depends on how labor markets will adjust to the pandemic, and it is too early to tell what will be the medium-run persistent impact. At the same time, they suggest that there is a large immediate impact both through child care closures and through the economic impact on services sectors that have more females employed.
Rachel Ngai's picture Rachel Ngai London School of Economics By a large amount but temporarily Confident
Ethan Ilzetzki's picture Ethan Ilzetzki London School of Economics To a small degree but persistently Confident
The burden of school closures has fallen very unequally along gender lines. This will clearly cause an increase in gender inequality on the margin and this damage may be permanent without mitigating policy measures. It is hard to assess the magnitude of this damage with current data. My hunch is that the social forces pushing for greater gender inequality will contain the damages, but larger damages are possible depending on the duration of the pandemic.
Jagjit Chadha's picture Jagjit Chadha National Institute of Economic and Social Research No opinion Not confident at all
Michael Wickens's picture Michael Wickens Cardiff Business School & University of York Not at all Confident
None
Roger Farmer's picture Roger Farmer University of Warwick To a small degree but persistently Confident
I could foresee that reallocations of household tasks and gender based reallocations in corporate structures might have persistent effects on the way that adults choose to spend their time.
Chryssi Giannitsarou's picture Chryssi Giannitsarou University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics By a large amount and persistently Confident
Natalie Chen's picture Natalie Chen University of Warwick By a large amount but temporarily Confident
The burden of homeschooling and housework has fallen in a disproportionate way on women. Gender inequality therefore widens. But the day things get back to some normality (as I hope they will), children will be back in school and women at work so the inequality in the longer run should to some extent dissipate.
Angus Armstrong's picture Angus Armstrong National Institute of Economic and Social Research No opinion Not confident
Wendy Carlin's picture Wendy Carlin University College London To a small degree but persistently Not confident
The accumulating evidence points in this direction.
Paul De Grauwe's picture Paul De Grauwe London School of Economics To a small degree and temporarily Confident
John VanReenen's picture John VanReenen London School of Economics To a small degree and temporarily Not confident
Morten Ravn's picture Morten Ravn University College London To a small degree but persistently Confident
It's clear that women have carried much more of the burden during the pandemic. This goes for many issues including unequal distribution of the responsibility of taking care of children and their education. This will harm their careers and increase gender inequalities. Again, mitigation has to take place. Policy needs to address the issue. Without that, and in case the pandemic continues for long, effects could be large. With mitigating policies, I think there will still be effects on women with small children for a long time. There is evidence that parental leave harms womens - but not mens - earnings persistently. The impact of the pandemic should be similar to such estimates.
Wouter Den Haan's picture Wouter Den Haan London School of Economics By a large amount but temporarily Not confident
This is a hard one. I really hope that we can make the negative impact temporarily but it will require institutions to recognise this and to take compensating actions.
Dawn Holland's picture Dawn Holland NIESR To a small degree but persistently Not confident
The additional childcare burden associated with school closures is likely to have fallen more heavily on women, and may lead to labour force withdrawal or extended periods of unemployment, with a permanent impact on earning potential. This may be partially offset by a change in workplace attitudes towards working from home.
Kate Barker's picture Kate Barker British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme To a small degree and temporarily Confident
Costas Milas's picture Costas Milas University of Liverpool To a small degree and temporarily Confident
Lucio Sarno's picture Lucio Sarno Cass Business School To a small degree but persistently Confident
Linda Yueh's picture Linda Yueh London Business School To a small degree and temporarily Not confident
Depends on a number of factors that would determine whether there was a temporary or permanent impact.