(Photo: Sergei Fadeichev / TASS / Sipa USA)
In recent days we have been slapped with catastrophic figures on the state of the economy. Particular attention was paid to the unprecedented falls in GDP caused by the Covid-19 crisis. What we read less about is about the consequences that long school closures have on the income potential of our children.
A study by the World Bank now shows that the closure of schools due to the pandemic reduces the time spent in education by 0.3 to 0.9 years. The study is based on figures from 157 countries.
Children go to school for an average of 7.9 years. The Covid-19 generation will have a maximum of 7.0 to 7.6 years of education, said the first study of its kind.
The World Bank then tries to estimate what this will mean for these children during their lifetime.
She concludes that these children will earn an average of USD 872 (735 euros) less annually during their entire lives.
The calculation is based on a five-month school closure. If the closure is extended to seven months, the annual loss of life-time income will amount to $ 1,408 ($ 1,180) per child. Over a lifetime, this would mean an average loss of income of 21,700 euros.
16 percent of investment in education is in danger of wiping out
According to the World Bank, 16 percent of the money that is globally invested in education could be lost by the pandemic. Finally, inequality and the further exclusion of already marginalized and vulnerable groups threatens to increase. In addition, girls, ethnic minorities and persons with a disability in particular are at risk of being more adversely affected by the closure of schools than others.
The study is, of course, speculative. It is based on a series of assumptions: no one knows what the current generation of school children will earn in ten years’ time. Let alone calculate what will be left when she retires.
Governments paid much attention to the dead and the sick, less to the impact on education
Still, the study raises an important question. Governments have published an endless stream of – often speculative – figures regarding the potential number of deaths from Covid-19. These numbers were used to justify lockdowns, school closures and other cases.
But how much data was examined pertaining to the effect of the lockdown on the economy, on general health and on education? Estimates of the actual costs of the lockdown seem to emerge only marginally.