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COVID-19 damaged cognitive development, lifetime earnings of an entire generation, finds Word Bank

GS Paper 2


Source: DTE

 Context: A new World Bank report titled “Collapse and Recovery: How COVID-19 Eroded Human Capital and What to Do about It “- provides the first comprehensive review of global data for young people who were under the age of 25 during the pandemic.

  • It analyzed global data on the pandemic’s impacts on young people at key developmental stages: early childhood (0-5 years), school age (6-14 years) and youth (15-24 years).
  • It shows that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted human capital accumulation at critical moments in the life cycle of children and young people in low- and middle-income countries.


Key Findings of the report:

  • Missed vaccinations and health care: Millions of children faced reductions in health care—including missed critical vaccines. They also faced more stress in their care environments—orphanhood, domestic violence, and suboptimal nutrition.
  • Learning loss: Preschool-age children in multiple countries lost more than 34 per cent of learning in early language and literacy and more than 29 per cent of learning in math.
  • School closures and ineffective remote learning: caused students to miss out on learning and to forget what they had learned: on average, for every 30 days of school closures, students lost about 32 days of learning.
  • youth unemployment:40 million people, who would have had a job in the absence of the pandemic, did not have one at the end of 2021, worsening youth unemployment trends.



  • Countries can and should act urgently to recover these losses and invest better in their people.
  • Gaps will widen over time if not addressed. 


Immediate policy actions suggested in the report:

  • Vaccinations and nutritional supplementation campaigns; increasing coverage of parenting programs; increasing access to pre-primary education, expanding coverage of cash transfers for vulnerable families.
  • Increasing instructional time; assessing learning and matching instruction to students’ learning level; and streamlining the curriculum to focus on foundational learning.
  • For youth, support for adapted training, job intermediation, entrepreneurship programs, and new workforce-oriented initiatives are crucial.
  • In the longer term, countries need to build agile, resilient, and adaptive human development systems that can better prepare for and respond to current and future shocks.
  • Collapse and Recovery recognize the need for countries to prioritize among the long list of potential crisis recovery policies and offers an approach for doing so that takes into account the extent of the collapse, complexity and cost of implementation, and political commitment.