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  • rmacculloch

By closing schools for traffic reasons, the PM has just cost Auckland's students over $1 billion

The government has ordered all schools, tertiary education institutions and early learning centers closed until February 7 to "minimize traffic movements on Auckland roads" whilst infrastructure is repaired.


So education has been shut on the grounds there's a traffic benefit, a benefit that has been legitimately raised by the National Emergency Agency, which made the request. The PM's job was to quantify the costs of closing schools and weigh them up against the benefits raised by the Agency. His job was to compare whether there was a better option on cost-benefit grounds, like limiting other forms of traffic & keeping schools open.


The primary cost of today's decision is shaving a week off half a million young people's education in Auckland - youngsters who've already suffered from not being able to attend classes during the pandemic. That is a cost that can be estimated. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests it is of the order of one to two billion dollars.


My calculation is based on estimates of the returns to schooling in terms of better paying jobs from an article by the world's leading education economist, Larry Katz (see the link below). PM Hipkins, who is also Education Minister, appears to have no clue about the econ literature on this subject or he would've never ordered schools to close.


Hipkins has not done a cost-benefit analysis to justify the decision he made today. He's passed a sweeping regulation with no informed scientific basis. During the pandemic, he also never did a cost-benefit to work out whether the second lock-down in late 2021 was justified. It had awful effects on Auckland children in education.


Now he is at it again. It is no way to run a country.


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