NEPC Review: The Economic Cost of the Pandemic: State by State (Hoover Institution, January 2023)
A report calculates the future economic burden that the pandemic has imposed through reduced student achievement levels. Under a set of assumptions about the link between achievement and earnings, this economic burden is projected to be very large, persistent, and variable across states. From there, the report contends that—to offset this achievement gap—schools need to be “made better” even as the report is silent on how schools can improve or if more funding is needed. Setting aside this exhortation, however, the report actually falls short of a full accounting of the total loss in children’s human capital from the pandemic. It focuses only on achievement deficits, failing to consider the other dimensions of human—and social—capital. Unfortunately, without a full reckoning or understanding of the damage the pandemic imposed on schoolchildren, it is unlikely that any policy responses will be adequate, efficient, or equitable.