Investing in education necessary to avoid a lost “corona-generation”

For future welfare and equal opportunities, it is important to invest more in education, says Bas Jacobs, Professor of Public Economics at Erasmus School of Economics. Young people are paying a high price due to the corona crisis, so it is more important than ever to invest in the current generation of students.

Lower quality education

As a result of the corona crisis, students are now receiving a lower quality of education for longer periods of time. As a result, investments in their human capital are inevitably lagging behind and educational opportunities are being missed. This has a negative effect on productivity and future economic growth, Jacobs explains in Dutch newspaper NRC. Online education is not conducive to interaction between lecturers and students, and interaction among students. As a result, students acquire less knowledge and development, while efforts have actually increased.

Social importance

In addition, there are now fewer opportunities to combine studying and working, says Jacobs. Many part-time jobs and work placements have been lost. Educational investments would therefore pay themselves off considerably in the long term. ‘The return on one euro invested in education is about 8% on average. In the meantime, the government can borrow at negative interest rates. The difference between the returns on education and the interest on government loans has now become so great that it is of social importance to invest a lot more in education.'

Increasing inequality 

According to the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), the long-term damage caused by the corona crisis could rise to around 9% of national income. This means that the Netherlands would miss almost a tenth of its income every year. In addition, the crisis is also increasing inequality between and within generations. ‘Without compensation, the current generation of young people continue to have a less favourable labour market position than that of older generations. While young people suffer the most from all the restrictions on freedom as a result of the measures designed to prevent older people from falling ill.’

More information

The full article from NRC, 12 October 2020, can be downloaded above (in Dutch).

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