Jumana Saleheen's picture
Affiliation: 
CRU Group
Credentials: 
Chief Economist

Voting history

The Economic Cost of School Closures

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

Answer:
To a small degree and temporarily
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
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.

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

Answer:
To a small degree but persistently
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
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.

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

Answer:
Minor
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
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.

Will COVID-19 Cause Permanent Damage to the UK Economy?

Question 2: Which aspect of the economy poses the greatest risk for a slow recovery?

Answer:
None of the above, other, or no opinion
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Since this is a health crisis the most important policy is to tackle the virus. That failing (as track and trace has done so far), the government should support changes that allow the economy to operate well in a socially distanced way. As the economy opens up, people are keen to return to normal. They want to be able to earn money and spend it. But the virus creates actual and perceived (fear) difficulties in achieving that in certain sectors where social distancing is a challenge – hospitality, retail, and leisure. The best policy in this situation is for the government to provide funds to control the virus; but also provide support that helps us live with the virus. To do this the government should support firms and workers in the most affected sectors (pubs, restaurants, and cinemas) to transition to a world in which they can provide their services, in a socially distanced way. To support the return of the relevant workers back to work, government’s may also need to up their support of online schooling (should it be needed). This wider scope of support will benefit the labour market, firms, and society.

Question 1: How quickly will the economy rebound (e.g. to the pre-pandemic trend) once the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained and absent major policy interventions? 

Answer:
The economy will recover within a small number (1-5) of years
Confidence level:
Extremely confident
Comment:
I expect Covid-19 to give rise to a deep recession in the UK in 2020. GDP growth is likely to fall by 8-10% in 2020. Assuming the virus is contained by then, 2021 will be a year of sharp rebound. GDP growth is forecast to rise by 8-10% y/y. The large rebound needs to be understood in the context of a recovery from the very low levels of activity witnessed during lockdown. The UK will continue its recovery through 2022. By 2023 I expect the UK economy to return to its pre-crisis growth rate of 1.6% y/y. It is important to note that while the growth rate of the UK returns to its pre-pandemic trend, the level of activity does not. I expect the UK to endure a small permanent loss in the level of GDP. Put differently in 3 years’ time the UK will be 2% smaller than it otherwise would have been, absent Covid. That is what I define the UK recovery as U-shaped. It would be V-shaped only if all losses from Covid could be recovered later, such that there would be no permanent loss in the size of the economy.