Aggregate and Intergenerational Implications of School Closures: A Quantitative Assessment
49 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2021
Date Written: November 2020
A majority of governments around the world unprecedentedly closed schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper quantitatively investigates the macroeconomic and distributional consequences of school closures through intergenerational channels in the medium-and long-term. The model economy is a dynastic overlapping generations general equilibrium model in which schools, in the form of public education investments, complement parental investments in producing children’s human capital. We calibrate the stationary equilibrium of the model to the U.S. economy and compute the equilibrium responses following unexpected school closure shocks. We find that school closures have moderate long-lasting adverse effects on macroeconomic aggregates such as output. The accumulated output loss over the next century relative to the annual output, following a half-year-long closure, exceeds 5%. In addition, we find that school closures reduce intergenerational mobility, especially among older children. Finally, we find that lower substitutability between public and parental investments induces larger damages in the aggregate economy and overall lifetime incomes of the affected children while mitigating negative impacts on intergenerational mobility. In all findings, heterogeneous parental responses to school closures play a key role. Our results provide a quantitatively relevant dimension to consider for policymakers assessing potential costs of school closures.
Keywords: Intergenerational mobility, lifetime income, parental investments, aggregate loss, substitutability
JEL Classification: E24, I24, J22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation