Student Achievement

Longer COVID-Related School Closures Could Hurt Students’ Future Earnings

By Olivia Rockeman and Nic Querolo, Bloomberg News — October 26, 2021 1 min read
Empty desks in a dark classrooom
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. students who experienced the longest school closures during the pandemic will face lower future earnings and are less likely to go to college, a new study shows.

Comparing children from the top quartile of income distribution to those from the bottom quartile, welfare losses are about 0.8 percentage point larger for the poorer children, according to a paper circulated Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. That calculation doesn’t account for the fact that school closures were longer in richer counties, which would narrow the gap.

Secondary schools were closed for in-person learning for longer periods than elementary schools, meaning that students who started secondary school during the pandemic will endure the largest losses in their earning potential.

See Also

Design: Vanessa Solis/Education Week, Images: iStock

In some cases, students are returning to classrooms this school year for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. The average student may have lost months of instructional time, though the amount varies greatly by age, race and socioeconomic status.

Private-public divide

Private schools experienced shorter closures than public schools, so students at private schools — which typically attract individuals from wealthier backgrounds — are likely to have higher long-term earnings and college attainment.

That said, within public schools, poorer areas — especially in the South but also the Midwest — saw shorter school closures on average than more affluent regions on both coasts.

While children from poorer households are still worse off and might have been affected more severely by the COVID-19 crisis, shorter closures to their schools could mean that “their losses in human capital and lifetime earnings are more benign than those children from richer families,” the paper found.

See Also

8 landing hero
Stephanie Shafer for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Explainer Closing COVID-19 Equity Gaps in Schools
September 16, 2020
4 min read

Many districts are planning to tap federal COVID-19 stimulus funds to pay for support like hiring additional staff, tutoring, new technology, mental-health support or trying to find students who dropped off rosters.

This year, at least 624 districts have been affected by closures in 2,359 schools, though the pace has slowed since late August, according to Burbio, which tracks school closures. The highest share of disruption has been in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Copyright (c) 2021, Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement What the Research Says Accelerate Learning: Takeaways From Other Countries
Amid a persistent global lag in student achievement, here's what some countries are doing to help students catch up.
3 min read
Earth turning into pixels.
DigitalVision Vectors
Student Achievement What the Research Says Global Academic Loss Persists Nearly Three Years Into the Pandemic
An analysis of data from 15 countries finds students are still behind by more than a third of a year of schooling.
5 min read
Young children lined up, some are faded into the background
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and GlobalStock/E+
Student Achievement Q&A ED's Research Chief: We Don't Understand Our Most Struggling Learners
A federal education research agency launches new programs to study pandemic learning recovery and a call to fill data gaps
3 min read
Illustration of data analysis.
sesame/DigitalVision Vectors
Student Achievement Why Districts’ Initial Learning Recovery Efforts Missed the Mark
Research suggests schools struggled to meet initial targets, regardless of the intervention recipe they selected.
4 min read
Illustration of a student desk in the middle of a maze.
Collage via iStock/Getty