Do Class Size Reductions Protect Students from Infectious Disease? Lessons for Covid-19 Policy from Flu Epidemic in Tokyo Metropolitan Area

32 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020 Last revised: 22 Nov 2022

See all articles by Masato Oikawa

Masato Oikawa

Waseda University - Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences; Waseda University - Waseda Institute of Social and Human Capital Studies (WISH)

Ryuichi Tanaka

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

Shun-ichiro Bessho

Keio University

Haruko Noguchi

Waseda University

Abstract

We evaluate the causal effect of class size (i.e., number of students in a classroom) on incidence of class closure due to flu epidemic in 2015, 2016, and 2017, applying an instrumental variable method with the Maimonides rule to administrative data of public primary and middle school students in one of the largest municipalities within the City of Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Given the classroom area of 63m2 set by regulation in Japan, class size reduction improves social distancing among students in a classroom.We find that class size reduction is effective to reduce class closure due to flu: one unit reduction of class size decreases class closure by about 5%; and forming small classes with 27 students at most, satisfying the social distancing of 1.5 m recommended to prevent droplet infection including influenza and COVID-19, reduces class closure by about 90%. In addition, we find that the older are students, the larger are the effects of class size reduction. Our findings provide supportive evidence for the effectiveness of social distancing policy in primary and middle schools to protect students from droplet infectious disease including COVID-19.

Keywords: students health, influenza(flu) epidemic, class closure, lesson for COVID-19, class size, COVID-19

JEL Classification: I18, I21, I28

Suggested Citation

Oikawa, Masato and Tanaka, Ryuichi and Bessho, Shun-ichiro and Noguchi, Haruko, Do Class Size Reductions Protect Students from Infectious Disease? Lessons for Covid-19 Policy from Flu Epidemic in Tokyo Metropolitan Area. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13432, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3643196

Masato Oikawa (Contact Author)

Waseda University - Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences ( email )

1-6-1 Nishi-waseda
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, 1698050
Japan

Waseda University - Waseda Institute of Social and Human Capital Studies (WISH)

Japan

Ryuichi Tanaka

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) ( email )

7-22-1 Roppongi, Minato-Ku
Tokyo 106-8677, Tokyo 106-8677
Japan

Shun-ichiro Bessho

Keio University ( email )

2-15-45 Mita
Minato-ku
Tokyo, 108-8345
Japan

Haruko Noguchi

Waseda University

1-104 Totsukamachi, Shinjuku-ku
tokyo, 169-8050
Japan

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