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COVID-19 Visible and invisible effects of school turmoil

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On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic for COVID-19. Most countries have closed schools for several months to emphasize the seriousness of the situation, minimize the spread of the coronavirus, and prevent hospital overcrowding. Two years later, students and teachers returned to face-to-face education, worried about the spread of coronavirus variants.

Educators, policy makers, parents, and students are worried about the impact of school closures on learning and socialization. “The pandemic has caused the greatest loss of human capital in living memory and the worst educational crisis of the century,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. Unfortunately, this large loss of human capital could have implications for the large labor market in the future.

The invisible nature of education loss

In many respects, the impact on the labor market will be invisible. None of the students currently affected will see a pandemic tax cut by looking at their pay slips in the future. There is no national income account that reflects the magnitude of the loss, but it accumulates quietly over time. Still, the loss is not so realistic because it is invisible. French economist, politician and journalist Frederick Bastier believed that it was a social responsibility to point out invisible losses in the public policy debate.

It is not easy to fulfill our social responsibilities by measuring the future invisible impact of pandemic-related school closures. Some of the main measurement difficulties are due to the time lag between the educational shock and its consequences. This is a problem identified by Alfred Marshall in 1890. The outcome of today’s educational decisions is appropriate in nature, whether made by policy makers or families. It can only be measured after a long time, and at that point there is little you can do to correct past mistakes. In other words, to measure the impact, you need to be very patient or have an original research design.

Estimating the cost of school turmoil: top-down and bottom-up

Researchers often use a model with a small number of variables to quantify the potential impact of COVID-19-related school closures on people’s future income. This top-down approach is usually based on information-based assumptions about other parameters such as the average number of years of school education lost due to a pandemic, the estimated return to school education, and the mitigation effects of distance learning. This approach shrinks the complex world into a fairly simple aggregate model. However, the complex features are not well understood, so the top-down approach is the best option for simulating the future effects of shock (two examples of studies using this approach: one; two). ..

The main problem with the top-down approach is to ignore the bottom-up feedback effect. In short, it is a mitigation factor adopted by parents and students when the school is closed. Even under normal circumstances, families play a major role in educating children. However, under unusual circumstances such as pandemics, family arrangements tend to become more important. For example, family instruction, tutoring arrangements, and off-curriculum online courses may have played an unknown but important mitigation role during the pandemic.

Bottom-up estimate of the cost of school turmoil

A new World Bank paper is now on affected students who will work in Kuwait’s private services using past episodes of school closures in Kuwait during the Gulf War (when Iraq invaded Kuwait). Estimating the long-term effects of the Pandemic Shock, the main employment choices of the Kuwaiti people. The closure of schools due to the Gulf War occurred almost 30 years ago, so it is analytically useful and all bottom-up feedback on labor market results has already been exhausted. This past closure also has many similarities to the current pandemic-related school turmoil, and it is possible to estimate salaries lost as a result of pandemic-related educational shocks.

Schools were closed in the 1990/91 school year when Iraq invaded Kuwait and began the Gulf War. As a result, many Kuwaiti students were no longer able to receive formal school education, and only some migrant students were able to continue their education abroad. The following school year, when the school opened, was used to restore damaged school infrastructure and accelerate school education so that students could catch up. Nevertheless, the turmoil has led to lower achievements in terms of average years of school education. The decline in achievement has led to long-term wage losses for affected Kuwaiti students.

The paper estimates that boys in a closed primary school for pandemics can face salary losses of $ 2,600 or more per year, and girls can face losses of $ 1,500 or more per year. (Figure 1). Throughout their working life, the average present value of lifetime income savings can be over $ 40,000 for boys and nearly $ 21,000 for girls. These are big losses. Contextually, a monthly salary for a civilian in 2019 means an average annual salary of $ 62,000 for Kuwaiti men and $ 47,000 for Kuwaiti women.

Unfortunately, the findings are both reassuring and anxious. They are relieved that the magnitude of the estimated income loss is consistent with the top-down survey. However, the worry is that the expected losses are large, can last, and put a great deal of pressure on policy makers who are struggling to contain the virus and grow the economy.