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.


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.
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
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.
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

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 Pace of Grade Inflation Picked Up During the Pandemic, Study Says
But the ACT found that the higher grades were not reflected in college-admission test scores.
4 min read
A+ in chalk on a traditional blackboard.
Student Achievement From Our Research Center The Rise of Tutoring and Where It Falls Short, in Charts
It can be a powerful tool to support academic recovery, but it's not reaching all who need it.
2 min read
teacher tutor student librarian 1137620335
SDI Productions/E+
Student Achievement Opinion America’s Boys Are in Serious Trouble. Schools Can Help
Here are three imperatives to giving boys an education worth living for, from a teacher at an all-boys middle school.
Max Jacobs
4 min read
Illustration of male student with head on desk.
F. Sheehan for Education Week/Getty
Student Achievement 6 Takeaways for School Districts to Implement Effective Tutoring
What districts need to know for starting or scaling up tutoring.
2 min read
teacher student 1156352478