Closing every school in America because of the coronavirus would cost the US economy $51 billion a month

  • Schools across the country are shutting down to stem the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
  • But if every school in the US closed for a month, it would cost the economy $US51 billion, according to new analysis.
  • That’s because countless parents would have to miss work to care for their children, reducing the labour force, according to an NYU epidemiology professor.
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The majority of US states have ordered the closure of public schools to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus.

While many consider the closing of schools critical for public safety, the rare decision is certain to have far-reaching economic implications.

In fact, if every school in America were to close its doors, it would cost the economy $US51.1 billion a month, according to analysis released last week.

That loss translates to .24% of the US economy. It would be due to lost productivity because of absenteeism, according to Joshua Epstein, an NYU epidemiology professor and one of the authors of the analysis.

“A lot of parents would miss work to care for their kids, and those people are subtracted from the labour force,” Epstein told Business Insider Today.


Epstein noted that keeping children at home will likely impact single parents and low-income workers the most, and could add strain to a healthcare system that depends on healthcare workers showing up to clinics and hospitals.

Across the country, governors and mayors have faced mounting pressure to close schools as the coronavirus spreads, although the move seems at odds with guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“You are creating unnecessary disruptions with limited benefits,” former CDC director Tom Frieden told the Washington Post. He later wrote in an essay for Vox that “we must consider the huge societal costs of closing schools against what may be little or no health benefit,” and added school closures may not make sense unless there is “documented widespread community transmission” of the virus.