Survey analyses effects of Covid-19 on young people around world

Covid-19 is exacerbating the effects of poverty on young people around the world, regardless of the virus’s prevalence in their country.

The Young Lives at Work Phone Survey into the impacts of Covid-19 shows that the consequences of the pandemic will be very significant, due to effects of the illness, but also worsening economic conditions.

Calls were held with more than 11,000 Young Lives respondents in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Peru and Vietnam. Short headline reports from Ethiopia, India and Peru are published today; the report from Vietnam is out later this week.

Dr Catherine Porter, an Economist in Lancaster University Management School, is among the authors leading the study. She said: “Young people all around the world have been affected by Covid-19, which has disrupted their home, school and work. The previously unimaginable consequences of the pandemic have intensified issues with food insecurity and education in the developing countries we study, while ability to protect oneself from the virus itself is uneven.”

Although incidence of the virus is low, lockdown has exacerbated instability and pre-existing inequalities. For those already living in poverty their unstable living conditions have been eroded even further:

  • Food insecurity has increased substantially during the outbreak and young people living in households that previously faced food shortages have been hit hardest.
  • The lockdown has had serious economic consequences for young people and will continue to do so. For most, it has not been possible to move their work-life online. Informal workers have been most affected by the crisis.
  • Education in each country has been severely interrupted due to lockdown and the digital divide – the change from in-school classes to online has cut off many from accessing their studies. The lack of access to digital technologies and the internet, as well as a need to seek employment, has led many young people to end their education.
  • Knowledge about the virus is uneven, and while general practices of social distancing, handwashing and mask wearing are known, lack of resources mean that it is not always possible to undertake them.

The Young Lives at Work Phone Survey is investigating the short and medium-term impact of Covid-19 on the health, well-being, employment and education trajectories of young people in their study. There may have long-ranging consequences for the young people as well as for the economic security of their countries.

These headline reports are the first in a series, with further analysis following in November when the second phone call in the series is completed.

Dr Porter added: “Since our initial surveys were carried out, the situation has changed in all of the countries Young Lives covers. In India and Ethiopia, the pandemic has worsened considerably since the first calls, and the second calls will allow us a more in-depth examination of how the crisis is affecting young people in their work and home lives and their education.”

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