Lost Learning, Lost Earnings – October 2020

Practice area: Education and Labour Markets | Secondary education
Client: The Sutton Trust
Published: 1 October, 2020
Keywords: modelling 2020 Appraisal

London Economics were commissioned by the Sutton Trust to assess the economic impact of school closures and subsequent learning loss. This study combines an analysis of the Labour Force Survey, the lost learning due to school closures between March and July 2020, and the unequal experiences depending on socio-economic background to estimate the potential impact on earnings and employment later in life. The analysis finds that school closures are likely to have substantial negative labour market impacts for those from less-well off groups, their chances of social mobility, and on the economy in general.

A variety of data sources indicate that school closures had a greater impact on those from lower socio-econom­ic groups (SEGs) than those from higher groups, including the amount of time spent learning each day, and the effec­tiveness of that learning. It is estimated that, compared to a normal year, secondary school children from a high SEG experienced an average loss of learning of 21% of the 2019/20 school year, compared to 34% for those from low SEGs

The long-term negative impact on earnings is esti­mated to be much higher for those from less well-off backgrounds. In net present value terms, the impact would be £3,870 for men from low SEGs, compared to £1,570 for men from high SEGs. For women, the corre­sponding estimates are £3,800 and £710, respectively

Aggregating the estimates to the cohort of Year 11 students who were meant to undertake GCSE exams in summer 2020, the total net economic loss for this one year group in England was estimated to be approximately £1.585 billion.


The report is available to download above.