How Will the Four-Day School Week Influence Vacationing, Tourism and Recreational Spending in Minnesota?

Principal Investigator(s):

Elton Mykerezi, Professor, Applied Economics

Project summary:

Minnesota school districts are switching from the traditional five day school week to a four day week in an attempt to reduce school district expenditures. The four day week can have several important implications that are of interest to the State's tourism industry. Researchers anticipate that there are several potential channels through which the four day school week can affect household decisions regarding how they allocate leisure time and expenditures.

Effect 1 - Unconstrained Parents: The number of short 3-4 day weekend trips could increase for households that were characterized by parents that do have Fridays off or have short Fridays but that were constrained by their children's Friday schedule. The researchers believe that such households would experience a net increase in short trips and perhaps a net increase in overall leisure time and expenditures.

Effect 2 - The income effect: An additional day off for the children can imply that, at least for some parents, the ones who typically work on Fridays may have to make childcare arrangements. The additional expense associated with the four day school week could compete with leisure and entertainment budgets. The researchers also note that schools tend to switch to a four day school week during times of financial hardship, and that entertainment expenditures are very income elastic, therefore these income effects may be substantial.

Effect 3 - Substitution of trips: Often parents have an annual leave (2-3 weeks on average) and the ability to take more personal or sick days throughout the year. If children have Fridays off, parents may now choose to consume their annual leave/personal days to take multiple short trips as opposed to fewer longer ones. This way, they have to make arrangements for daycare less frequently and they increase the total number of trips. Overall, families may net an increase in short trips, but a decline in longer vacations.

This study examines how the number and length of leisure trips is affected by the four day school week. Changes in expenditures and methods of transportation and lodging are examined closely.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2011110
  • Start date: 02/2011
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Economics