The progress made over a decade has seen a major shift with Covid-19 pandemic hitting hard, and a reversal is only possible through major evidence driven policy measures, said the Human Capital Index, which is an international metric that benchmarks key components of human capital across countries.
“Today, hard-won human capital gains in many countries are at risk. But countries can do more than just work to recover the lost ground. Ambitious, evidence-driven policy measures in health, education, and social protection can pave the way for today’s children to surpass the human-capital achievements and quality of life of the generations that preceded them.,” the report said.
The Human Capital Index (HCI) report provides a snapshot of the state of human capital before the pandemic and a baseline to track the pandemic’s impacts on human capital.
The HCI report said that the pandemic struck the world when it was healthier and more educated than ever. The report mentions that a child born just before the advent of COVID-19 could expect to achieve on average just 56 percent of her potential productivity as a future worker.
The report said that there were huge gaps in human capital in low-income countries and those affected by violence, armed conflict, and institutional fragility. It also said that the sex disaggregated data showed that girls now enjoyed a slight edge over boys in human capital accumulation in most of the countries. However, the report stresses that women continued to be at a substantial disadvantage in many dimensions of human capital.
Along with broad economic development, specific policies contributed to some countries’ progress in human capital, the report said. The report warns that a sizable fraction of today’s young people may not be employed when they become adults. “Even if they find employment, they may not hold jobs where they can use their skills and cognitive abilities to increase their productivity,” the HCI said.
The HCCI report pointed out that human capital was particularly underutilised in middle income countries. It was strikingly underutilised for women in many settings.
The Human Capital Index said that policymakers need to expand health service coverage and quality among marginalised communities, boost learning outcomes together with school enrollments, and support vulnerable families with social protection measures adapted to the scale of the COVID-19 crisis for protecting and extending earlier human capital gains.