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Employment Opportunities and High School Completion during the COVID-19 Recession


  • Ahn, Kunwon

    (Iowa State University)

  • Lee, Jun Yeong

    (Iowa State University)

  • Winters, John V.

    (Iowa State University)


COVID-19 created major disruptions for young people including health concerns, school closures, reduced social opportunities, and a wilting economy. We examine the effect of COVID-19 on high school completion in the United States. We find that high school completion rates increased considerably in 2020 compared to previous years. We investigate various mechanisms and find that worse employment conditions were the driving force. The lower opportunity costs of schooling because of the pandemic recession encouraged more young people to complete high school. The pandemic created extensive problems in education, but fortunately it did not reduce overall high school completion rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahn, Kunwon & Lee, Jun Yeong & Winters, John V., 2020. "Employment Opportunities and High School Completion during the COVID-19 Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 13802, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13802

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    Cited by:

    1. Remi Jedwab & Roberto Samaniego & Paul Romer & Asif Islam, 2022. "Scars of Pandemics from Lost Schooling and Experience: Aggregate Implications and Gender Differences Through the Lens of COVID-19," Working Papers 2022-02, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. George Bulman & Robert Fairlie, 2022. "The Impact of COVID-19 on Community College Enrollment and Student Success: Evidence from California Administrative Data," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 17(4), pages 745-764, Fall.
    3. Chatterji, Pinka & Li, Yue, 2021. "Effects of COVID-19 on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).

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    More about this item


    education; employment; recession; COVID-19; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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