Morten Ravn's picture
Affiliation: 
University College London
Credentials: 
Professor of economics
Head of Department

Voting history

The Economic Cost of School Closures

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:
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.

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 but persistently
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
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.

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

Answer:
No opinion
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
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.

COVID-19 and UK Public Finances

Question 2: What is the best way to (eventually) reduce public deficits and debt?

Answer:
None of the above, other, or no opinion
Confidence level:
Not confident
Comment:
I do not think that this can be answered unconditionally. We need to see how the crisis pans out. In principle, the optimal policy would be to issue debt now and then tax finance the increase in debt (including inflation tax) in present value terms once the crisis is over. But the shock is so large that it would be better to think about contingent policies in case debt dynamics are worse than anticipated.

Covid-19: Economic Policy Response

Question 3: Which would be the maximal public debt you would be willing to tolerate if used effectively (as in your answers to 1 and 2 above) to support an economic recovery?

Answer:
No opinion
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
At this point, there do not seem to be reason to worry about public debt, it's more important to avoid that the economy comes to a stand still. The government still has the option to cancel Brexit which would help coping with the shock.

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