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Later school start times benefit students and the economy

Filed in
  • School
  • Teens
  • School Start Times

By Corinne Lederhouse  |  Sep 12, 2017
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The health benefits of delayed school start times for students are well-documented. But what is the economic impact of starting school later?

Opponents argue that changing school start times would be expensive for parents and school districts. However, a recent study from RAND Europe shows that delaying school start times is cost-effective. Results suggest that starting school later could have a positive impact on the U.S. economy.

Researchers performed an economic analysis (in 47 U.S. states) of a state-wide school start time of 8:30 a.m.

“A small change [in school start time] could result in big economic benefits over a short period of time for the U.S.,” said research leader Marco Hafner in a news release. “In fact, the level of benefit and period of time it would take to recoup the costs from the policy change is unprecedented in economic terms.”

The researchers used a macroeconomic modelling approach. Their analysis estimated the benefits of improved academic performance of students and reduced car crash rates. The model projected changes to the U.S. economy over a 20-year period.

Study results suggest that the benefits of later start times outweigh the immediate costs. After only two years, the study projects an economic gain of $8.6 billion to the U.S. economy. After 10 years, the study shows that delaying school start times would contribute $83 billion to the U.S. economy. The 20-year projection shows an average annual gain of about $9.3 billion each year to the U.S. economy.

The study didn’t take into account other effects from insufficient sleep, such as increased obesity and mental health problems. As a result, the reported economic benefits from delaying school start times could be even higher.


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