17 April 2019

What Is The Economic Impact Of Closing Schools For A Day?

Economists love natural experiments. One that happens pretty regularly is that most of the schools in a metropolitan area are closed with little warning.

Usually, this is confounded with the economic impact of a weather emergency like a blizzard. How much of the economic impact is due to the weather and how much is due to the school closings?

But, today in Denver, schools are closed across the metro area because of a credible threat from an armed eighteen year old woman that she will carry out a school shooting in memory of the Columbine shooting. So, we have a natural experiment that disentangles the weather impacts of a surprise metro area-wide school closing event and the school closing impacts themselves.

* How many adults don't go to work because they work for the school system or have a job that is closely tied to the school system?

* How many adults stay home from work because they don't have child care? How many of them lose their jobs for doing so? How many of them default on regular monthly bills like rent or utilities or car payments or student loan payments or health insurance payments because they are paid hourly and the missed work reduces their monthly income?

* How many adults get work they wouldn't otherwise have when they are hired to provide child care on an emergency basis?

* How much does consumer spending on takeout and delivery food increase because children home alone may order out for food rather than try to cook or have what they would have eaten at school?

* Does consumer spending spike up because parents who choose to stay home with the kids do shopping that they would otherwise have done on a weekend?

* How does public transit ridership change? (In Denver, high school kids who would otherwise be entitled to school bus transportation to school get a bus pass to use on public transit to get to school rather than school buses.)

* How does spending on gasoline change? Does it fall due to less people traveling to and from schools and after school activities? Or does it increase due to travel to other destinations and increased food delivery traffic?

* How many kids go hungry because school was their primary source of breakfast and lunch?

* How many accidents are caused because many children are home unsupervised and get into trouble and even kids in daycare or with a babysitter may be overloading the caretaker's capacity?

* Do ER and urgent care visits spike on days like this one?

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