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It might seem like closing schools so that everyone can work would be in the country’s economic interests. After all, there would be many more workers available and production would increase. This is true, but only in the short run. In the long run, the economy would suffer.
To understand why this is so, let us think about education as a form of investment. When a business invests money in, for example, building a new factory or buying new machinery, it loses money in the short term. However, it is preparing itself for future growth. It is setting up a new system that will allow it to produce more in the future. This is exactly what education does.
If we educate our young people, they come to have more skills that can allow them to have really good jobs in the future. This means that our economy can grow in the future when they apply the skills that they have learned. If we take them straight out of high school and put them to work, they may be very good at some jobs, but they will not be able to innovate as well as they would have with more education. They, and our economy as a whole, will be stuck at a lower level of productivity than would otherwise have been the case.
Thus, closing schools would bring an initial benefit, but it would have a very negative long term outcome.
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