Collapse and Recovery: How the Covid – 19 pandemic eroded human capital and what to do about it.

Authors: Nobert Schady, Alaka Holla, Shwetlena Sarbawal, Joana Silva, and Andres Yi Chang

At the World Bank / International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meeting 2023, this report was one of the most important released. While it is widely recognised that Covid – 19 pandemic impact on human capital was huge, little was known about the lingering consequences of the pandemic on young people. This report, using individual and household level data from low- and middle-income countries, articulated the likely consequences of the Covid – 19 pandemic on human capital and future implications for productivity, income growth, earnings, and inequalities if these losses are not reversed.

The key element of the report is the dynamic impact of Covid – 19 pandemic on human capital, documenting how it affects human capital in the future. For instance, the report showed that “nearly 1 billion children missed a year or more of schooling and learned little, if anything, while schools were closed”. The report does not only examine what happened to the different sets of young people – childhood, adolescent, and early adulthood – critical ages of accumulation of human capital, but the dynamic effects of this impact many years to come.

The implications are huge, affecting future productivities, earnings, income growth, and inequalities. Focus, therefore, should be on measures that helps to reverse the losses recorded during the pandemic.

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