Students have already been saddled with economic losses from school closures

Eric A. Hanushek
Ludger Woessmann
Published Date
The Hill

Nobody is talking about schools resuming completely to normal this fall, but the economic problems caused by the pandemic would not be solved even if they did. In an analysis that we authored and that was discussed last weekend by education ministers of the G-20, we ind the cohort of K-12 students hit by the spring closures has been seriously harmed and already faces a loss of lifetime income of 3 percent or more. The nation also faces a bleaker future. The school closures had highly variable impacts on student learning. Some schools found ways to pivot to home-based learning. Some parents found ways to substitute for the lessened role of schools. But there is no doubt that the average student has suffered learning losses and that these will follow the student throughout life. Early estimates by a national testing firm indicate that this cohort of students had already accrued one-third to over a half year of learning losses. Even taking the optimistic view that the average loss was just one-third year and that schools on average immediately return to 2019 levels, these students can expect 3 percent lower earnings throughout their entire career.