Humanity is set to go into reverse due to the coronavirus pandemic’s “triple hit” on education, income and health, the United Nations has warned. 

According to an index which measures humanity’s progress, the current crisis is on course to trigger a setback in ‘human development’ for the first time since the concept was introduced in 1990. 

The measure, used as a benchmark to compare progress year-on-year in more than 180 countries across the globe, takes into account the health, education and living standards. Though imperfect the aim is to provide a more rounded picture of development, encompassing wellbeing as well as the economy. 

But the human development index (HDI) could suffer a “steep and unprecedented decline” this year, according to a report simulating the early impacts of the coronavirus pandemic by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

“Since this measure was introduced 30 years ago, the HDI has increased almost every year – even when we were faced with a major crisis like the global financial crisis,” said Pedro Conceição, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP. 

“But the current situation is unprecedented because it’s hitting all three elements of human development at the same time… it’s a universal shock.”

Mr Conceição added that relative incomes are likely to decrease “to levels not seen globally since the Great Depression of the 1930s” – the simulation is based on estimates from the International Monetary Fund that global per capita income this year will fall by four per cent.

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