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Assessing inequality in the school closure response to Covid-19

The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has caused school closures in more than 190 countries, affecting over 90% of the world’s student population. School closures can widen learning inequalities and disproportionately hurt vulnerable students. We collected data on the mock exam scores of university applicants in China before and after a two-month period of school closure. We observe that students from rural households and those receiving grant aid are more negatively affected by school closures compared to their urban and non-aided counterparts. To strengthen the causal interpretation of the results, we also investigate the scores in the previous graduating cohort who did not experience school closure, and find no evidence of the change in score over the same calendar period. Our study points to the urgent need to address the immediately increased and potentially long-termed educational inequality caused by school closures.

Lead investigator:

Xiqian Cai


Xiamen University

Primary topic:

Schools, universities & training

Region of data collection:

Asia and Oceania

Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection


Start date


End date




Read the results from this research