WASHINGTON, September 16, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic threatens hard-won gains in health and education over the past decade, especially in the developing countries, a new World Bank Group analysis finds. 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 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. The update also presents a decade-long view of the evolution of human capital outcomes from 2010 through 2020, finding improvements across all regions of the world, where data are available, and across all income levels. These were largely due to improvements in health, reflected in better child and adult survival rates and reduced stunting, as well as an increase in school enrollment. This progress is now at risk due to the global pandemic.
“Amid the pandemic, protecting and investing in people is more vital than ever, as this can lay the foundation for sustainable, inclusive recoveries and future growth,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “The pandemic makes clear the importance of strong healthcare systems, resilient and flexible education systems, and social protection programs that provide help to those in need.”
Of the 48 countries in Europe and Central Asia included in the 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), 33 are among the upper-third in the world, and almost all are in the top half. However, there are significant variations within the region. Among the region’s emerging and developing economies, a child born in Poland can expect to achieve 75 percent of the productivity of a fully educated adult in optimal health. In contrast, a child born in Tajikistan, can expect to achieve only 50 percent productivity.
In Moldova, a child born today can only expect to achieve 58 percent of the productivity of a fully educated adult in optimal health. This score is lower than the average for Europe & Central Asia region but higher than the average for lower middle-income countries. Within the last decade, the HCI value of Moldova has increased slightly from 0.56 to 0.58 thanks to investment in education, social protection and health care. Further and better targeted investment in these areas is needed so that Moldovans can reach their full human potential.
The World Bank is helping Moldova achieve this goal, including by providing emergency support for a better response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the health sector, the World Bank is helping to address the non-communicable disease burden and improving the efficiency and quality of care provided in hospitals (including through developing a pay for performance mechanism), as well as strengthening the government’s COVID response through financing emergency equipment and supplies. This is complemented by measures to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID crisis through redesigning and expanding the Ajutor Social program to reach more poor and near-poor families and permanently increasing the benefit generosity for families with children. In education, the World Bank supports the strengthening of both basic education (including building capacity for digital learning during COVID-19) and higher education to help secure Moldovans good jobs at home rather than having to seek employment opportunities abroad.
On-going World Bank-supported projects to enhance human development in Moldova total US$185 million, including grant financing from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. We will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.
For more information or to download country data, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/humancapital
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