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Pandemic Threatens Human Capital Gains Of Past Decade- New W’Bank Report

A new report by the World Bank Group on Wednesday warned that the devastation caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since the beginning of the year now threatens the hard-won gains in health and education over the past decade.

This, the analysis by the bank said is especially true of the poorest countries, stressing that investments in human capital—the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives—are key to unlocking a child’s potential and to improving economic growth in every country. 

The World Bank Group’s 2020 Human Capital Index includes health and education data for 174 countries – covering 98 percent of the world’s population – up to March 2020, providing a pre-pandemic baseline on the health and education of children.

The analysis shows that pre-pandemic, most countries had made steady progress in building human capital of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries.

Despite this progress, and even before the effects of the pandemic, a child born in a typical country could expect to achieve just 56% of their potential human capital, relative to a benchmark of complete education and full health. 

“The pandemic puts at risk the decade’s progress in building human capital, including the improvements in health, survival rates, school enrollment, and reduced stunting. The economic impact of the pandemic has been particularly deep for women and for the most disadvantaged families, leaving many vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Protecting and investing in people is vital as countries work to lay the foundation for sustainable, inclusive recoveries and future growth.”

According to the World Bank, due to the pandemic’s impact, most children – more than 1 billion – have been out of school and could lose out, on average, half a year of schooling, adjusted for learning, translating into considerable monetary losses. Data also shows significant disruptions to essential health services for women and children, with many children missing out on crucial vaccinations.

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