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When the Great Equalizer Shuts Down: Schools, Peers, and Parents in Pandemic Times

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  • Agostinelli, Francesco
  • Doepke, Matthias
  • Sorrenti, Giuseppe
  • Zilibotti, Fabrizio

Abstract

What are the effects of school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic on children's education? Online education is an imperfect substitute for in-person learning, particularly for children from low-income families. Peer effects also change: schools allow children from different socio-economic backgrounds to mix together, and this effect is lost when schools are closed. Another factor is the response of parents, some of whom compensate for the changed environment through their own efforts, while others are unable to do so. We examine the interaction of these factors with the aid of a structural model of skill formation. We find that school closures have a large and persistent effect on educational outcomes that is highly unequal. High school students from poor neighborhoods suffer a learning loss of 0.4 standard deviations, whereas children from rich neighborhoods remain unscathed. The channels operating through schools, peers, and parents all contribute to growing educational inequality during the pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Agostinelli, Francesco & Doepke, Matthias & Sorrenti, Giuseppe & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2020. "When the Great Equalizer Shuts Down: Schools, Peers, and Parents in Pandemic Times," CEPR Discussion Papers 15606, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15606
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; neighborhood effects; Pandemics; Parenting; parenting style; peer effects; skill acquisition;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General

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