Human Development Set for First Decline Since 1990 on Virus

(Bloomberg) --

Global human development -- a measure that combines education, health and living standards -- will this year decline for the first time in at least three decades, the United Nations Development Programme warned on Wednesday, as the coronavirus upends the global economy.

Global income per person is expected to fall 4% this year, and, when adjusted for those who don’t have Internet access, the percentage of primary school-age children who are getting an education is at the lowest level since the 1980s. The death toll from the virus has exceeded 300,000 so far.

“The world has seen many crises over the past 30 years,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said in a statement. “Each has hit human development hard but, overall, development gains accrued globally year-on-year. Covid-19 –- with its triple hit to health, education and income -- may change this trend.”

Developing countries are likely to be the worst affected, as they are less able to cope with social and economic fallout from Covid-19. African countries alone are asking creditors to temporarily suspend $44 billion in debt payments this year so that they can use the money to combat the pandemic.

The global human development measure was introduced in 1990.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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