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October 25, 2022

Covid-19 devastated US children’s education; Australia promises overseas development assistance for Pacific

Covid-19 devastated US children’s education; Australia promises overseas development assistance for Pacific

Today’s global news summary brings news affecting the USA, Australia, and Portugal and discusses issues as diverse as educational achievement, climate aid, and the minimum wage.  

Covid-19 devastated US children’s education
Education and human capital
According to a national educational assessment, the so-called “Nation’s Report Card,” fourth- and eighth-graders in US schools fell behind in reading and had the largest decline in mathematics since the assessment started in 1990, reports CNN. No state or large urban district showed improvements in mathematics, according to the report. The report offers the first detailed look into how health crisis disruptions and virtual learning affected students across the country. It also reveals that the most vulnerable fared the worst. Scores on the eighth-grade mathematics exams declined across most racial and ethnic groups as well as for lower, middle and high performing students. Fourth-grade mathematics scores dropped for all racial and ethnic groups except native Hawaiian-Pacific Islanders.

“Evidence suggests that there are economic gains for individuals if they have better basic skills (literacy and numeracy in particular),” say Gemma Cherry and Anna Vignoles in their IZA World of Labor article. 

Related content
IZA World of Labor articles

What is the economic value of literacy and numeracy?
Do higher levels of education and skills in an area benefit wider society?
The labor market in the US, 2000–2020

Key topics
Covid-19—Pandemics and the labor market

Opinions
School closures and effective in-person learning during Covid-19: When, where, and for whom
A persistent casualty of Covid-19: Children’s skill development

Videos
IZA World of Labor discussion on the economics of education

IZA Discussion Papers
The COVID-19 Pandemic and School Closure: Learning Loss in Mathematics in Primary Education

Australia promises overseas development assistance for Pacific island nations threatened by climate change
Environment
Australia is to allocate 900 million Australian dollars (approximately $565 million) to the Pacific region to address the threat of climate change, as well as for various security purposes, reports Aljazeera. Foreign Minister Penny Wong, speaking at the Pacific Way Conference in French Polynesia, noted that climate change was “the single greatest threat” to lives, livelihoods, and security in the Pacific, saying: “This additional assistance will directly support action in the region to strengthen climate resilience, including on climate science and renewable energy.” 

“[W]hile it is largely accepted that climate change and natural disasters are one of the main challenges of the contemporary era, it is still difficult to achieve consensus on an appropriate course of action, particularly between developed and developing countries,” says IZA World of Labor author Linguère Mously Mbaye.

Related content
IZA World of Labor articles
 
Climate change and the allocation of time
Climate change, natural disasters, and migration
Does hot weather affect human fertility?

Key topics
Environmental regulation and the labor market

Opinions
How will climate change affect what we do?

Videos
IZA World of Labor panel discussion on environment and health

IZA Discussion Papers
Why Do Relatively Few Economists Work on Climate Change? A Survey
Fighting Climate Change: The Role of Norms, Preferences, and Moral Values

Portuguese government rejects a minimum wage rise
Labor markets and institutions
The Portuguese government has rejected a call from two political parties to increase the national minimum wage to 800 or 850 euros, reports The Portugal News. In its State Budget, the government instead proposes that the minimum wage rises to 760 euros in 2023—with the objective of reaching 900 euros in 2026—and that civil service workers have, at least, an increase of 52.11 euros per month in their base salaries.

“A good deal of evidence indicates that the wage gains from minimum wage increases are offset, for some workers, by fewer jobs,” writes IZA World of Labor author David Neumark. “Other mechanisms, such as earned income tax credits, appear more effective at helping low-income families,” he says.

Related content
IZA World of Labor articles 

Employment effects of minimum wages
The minimum wage versus the earned income tax credit for reducing poverty
The effects of minimum wages on youth employment and income

Key topics
What are the effects of minimum wages?
What can policymakers do to reduce poverty?

Opinions
Minimum wages hurt young people
Low pay jobs, do they “scar” future job prospects?: An interview with Claus Schnabel

IZA Discussion Papers
Turning a "Blind Eye"? Compliance with Minimum Wage Standards and Employment
Minimum Wage Increases and Vacancies