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Coronavirus pandemic, remote learning and education inequalities


  • Murat, Marina
  • Bonacini, Luca


School closures during the 2020 pandemic forced countries to rapidly adopt distance learning, with uncertain effects on education inequalities. Using PISA 2018 data from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, we find that students unable to learn remotely, because of a lack of ICT resources or of a quiet place to study, experience significant cognitive losses that, everything else equal, range from 70 percent of a school year in the United Kingdom to 50 percent in Italy. Similar results are found by considering days of absence from school. In the longer run, students who cannot learn remotely are more likely to end their education early and repeat grades, especially in Spain, Germany and Italy. The distribution of cognitive losses is linked to countries' educational systems; hence, policies aiming to enhance e-learning by focusing on disadvantaged students and schools should be designed accordingly.

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  • Murat, Marina & Bonacini, Luca, 2020. "Coronavirus pandemic, remote learning and education inequalities," GLO Discussion Paper Series 679, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:679

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    1. Susana Mourão & Sara Pinheiro & Maria Manuela Mendes & Pedro Caetano & Olga Magano, 2023. "How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic and Digital Divide Impact Ciganos/Roma School Pathways?," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 12(2), pages 1-17, February.
    2. van Cappelle, Frank & Chopra, Vidur & Ackers, Jim & Gochyyev, Perman, 2021. "An analysis of the reach and effectiveness of distance learning in India during school closures due to COVID-19," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    3. Bonacini, Luca, 2020. "Unequal effects of the economic cycle on human capital investment. Evidence from Italian panel data," GLO Discussion Paper Series 733, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Mahnoosh Hassankhani & Mehdi Alidadi & Ayyoob Sharifi & Abolghasem Azhdari, 2021. "Smart City and Crisis Management: Lessons for the COVID-19 Pandemic," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(15), pages 1-18, July.
    5. Cristian Barra & Marinella Boccia, 2022. "What matters in educational performance? Evidence from OECD and non-OECD countries," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 56(6), pages 4335-4394, December.

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    More about this item


    Covid-19; educational economics; inequality; PISA; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

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