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Primary School Reopenings and Parental Work


  • Pierre-Loup Beauregard

    () (Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia)

  • Marie Connolly

    (Department of Economics, University of Quebec in Montreal)

  • Catherine Haeck

    () (Department of Economics, University of Quebec in Montreal)

  • Timea Laura Molnar

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Central European University)


In this paper, we exploit the geographical pattern of primary school reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic in Quebec to estimate the impact of school reopenings on parental employment and work hours. We first use a difference-in-differences approach, in which we compare parents of primary-school children in regions where school reopened in May 2020 to similar parents in regions where schools remained closed. We also use a triple-difference model, in which parents of older, secondary-school children are used as an additional control group. We estimate the impact of school reopenings separately for mothers and fathers, and for single parents and parents living in dual-parent households. We find a positive impact of school reopenings on employment and on actual hours worked. The effects tend to be stronger for single parents: single mothers have experienced a 20 percentage point increase in their employment rate following school reopenings. We also split our sample according to whether the job can be done from home, and find stronger impacts for those whose jobs cannot easily be done from home. Our results suggest that reopening schools allows parents, especially single parents, to maintain their employment link and support themselves.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Loup Beauregard & Marie Connolly & Catherine Haeck & Timea Laura Molnar, 2020. "Primary School Reopenings and Parental Work," Working Papers 20-06, Research Group on Human Capital, University of Quebec in Montreal's School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:grc:wpaper:20-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2008. "Universal Child Care, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 709-745, August.
    2. Frenette, Marc, 2008. "The Returns to Schooling on Academic Performance: Evidence from Large Samples Around School Entry Cut-off Dates," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008317e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    3. Jaume, David & Willén, Alexander, 2018. "Oh Mother: The Neglected Impact of School Disruptions," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 30/2018, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    4. Dingel, Jonathan I. & Neiman, Brent, 2020. "How many jobs can be done at home?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    5. Michèle Belot & Dinand Webbink, 2010. "Do Teacher Strikes Harm Educational Attainment of Students?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(4), pages 391-406, December.
    6. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2008. "Child-Care Policy and the Labor Supply of Mothers with Young Children: A Natural Experiment from Canada," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 519-548, July.
    7. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    8. Haeck, Catherine & Lefebvre, Pierre & Merrigan, Philip, 2015. "Canadian evidence on ten years of universal preschool policies: The good and the bad," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 137-157.
    9. Catherine Haeck & Pierre Lefebvre, 2020. "Pandemic School Closures May Increase Inequality in Test Scores," Working Papers 20-03, Research Group on Human Capital, University of Quebec in Montreal's School of Management, revised Jun 2020.
    10. Adams-Prassl, Abigail & Boneva, Teodora & Golin, Marta & Rauh, Christopher, 2020. "Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock: Evidence from Real Time Surveys," IZA Discussion Papers 13183, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    More about this item


    school closures; school reopenings; labour market; employment; work hours; pandemic; Canada;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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