The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is unleashing a human development crisis. On some dimensions of human development, conditions today are equivalent to deprivation levels last seen in the mid-1980s. However, the crisis is hitting hard on all of the human development’s constitutive elements: income (with the most significant contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression), health (directly causing a death toll over 300,000 and indirectly leading potentially to an additional 6,000 child deaths every day from preventable causes over the next six months), and education (with effective out-of-school rates).
The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalities— on enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the 21st century, as defined in the 2019 Human Development Report. This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis.