How the pandemic is impacting youth?

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  • The survey ran from 21 April to 21 May 2020, covered 112 countries and received over 12,000 responses of people aged 18-34.
    The survey ran from 21 April to 21 May 2020, covered 112 countries and received over 12,000 responses of people aged 18-34. . Source: Recent Jobs for youth.

A survey shows how Covid-19 has affected Young people in areas such as employment, education, well-being and human rights.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on youth around the world. Young people have found more difficulties in the field of employment, education or mental well-being and they have seen how safety measures have exacerbated their vulnerabilities in accessing their human rights.

To know how the pandemic has affected youth, the European Youth Forum, ILO, Decents Jobs for Youth, OHCHR, AIESEC, UNMGCY and EUTF for Africa ran a survey in 112 countries.

The following lines summarises the main conclusions in the different areas.


The survey shows as 1 in 6 young people, between 18-29 years, stopped working since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis and younger youth aged 18–24 were more likely to stop working. Almost one-quarter (23.1 per cent) of respondents aged 18–24 who worked before the COVID-19 outbreak had stopped working, compared to 13 per cent among older youth, aged 25–29.

Young workers in clerical support, services, sales, and crafts and related trades were more likely to have stopped working and most of these job losses resulted from businesses ceasing to operate or else youth being laid-off.

Impacts on working hours, income and productivity

Nearly 1 in every 4 young workers has seen a reduction in working hours and the 48% of employed youth experienced a reduction in income. These losses to working hours, income and self-assessed productivity expose young people, many in the midst of a school-to-work transition, to labour market risks at an unprecedented scale.

Reductions in hours worked, income and self-assessed productivity are highest in low-income and lower middle-income countries.

The findings also show gender differences regarding impacts on employment, income losses and decreased self-assessed productivity are to a large extent driven by occupational differences between young women and men and other socio-economic factors.

Labour market policies

The results of the survey show that government responses aimed at addressing the impacts of the crisis on labour markets are more likely to reach young people who remained in employment after the onset of the pandemic. 29 per cent of the young people who had stopped working benefited from some form of government response to the crisis, compared to 43 per cent of those who remained in employment and worked at least one hour per day.

Education and training

The closure of schools, universities and training centres during the pandemic affected over 73 per cent of the youth surveyed who were in education or training.

Nearly one in eight (13 per cent) of young people saw their education and training come to a complete stop, with no courses, teaching or tests set since the pandemic began while the transition to online and distance learning appears more widespread among youth in high income countries, highlighting the large ‘digitals divides’ between regions.

Despite efforts to ensure continuity in education and training services, 65 per cent of young people reported having learnt less since the onset of the pandemic. These results highlight the challenges involved in moving learning out of the classroom and into the home.

Youth rights

The pandemic and its associated safety measures have exacerbated the vulnerabilities of young people in accessing their human rights:

  • One in three young people had noticed a significant impact on their right to participate in public affairs.
  • More than one in four young people (27 per cent) stated that the pandemic has significantly impacted their right to freedom of religion or belief.
  • Nearly one in four young people (24 per cent) reported a significant impact on their right to information.
  • Young people who had stopped working more often reported their right to housing being affected.

This greater impact on rights is associated with lower mental well-being.

Mental well-being

The pandemic has also generated a mental health crisis. The survey found that, globally, 50 per cent of young people aged 18–29 are possibly subject to anxiety or depression, while a further 17 per cent are probably affected by it.

Mental well-being during the crisis is shown to be correlated to some extent with age, with younger groups experiencing poorer well-being outcomes. Young people who stopped working since the onset of the pandemic voiced stronger concerns, with 24 per cent reporting to feel fearful about their career prospects.

Social activism and youth behaviours

Young people’s social activism and behaviours are contributing to mitigating the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, through compliance with government measures, volunteering, donations and outreach.

Over one in four young people reported a high degree of engagement in volunteerism and making donations towards the COVID-19 response, with only small gender differences observable. While at the start of the survey around 20 per cent of youth reported a high degree of volunteering, this had grown to 38 per cent by the end.

The survey ran from 21 April to 21 May 2020, covered 112 countries and received over 12,000 responses of people aged 18-34

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