How COVID-19 is Changing the World: A Statistical Perspective

Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (2020)

This report provides a snapshot of some of the latest information available on how COVID-19 is affecting different aspects of public and private life, from economic and environmental fluctuations to changes that affect individuals in terms of income, education, employment and violence and changes affecting public services such as civil aviation and postal services. It also puts a spotlight on the affects for some sub-population groups like women and children as well as geographical regions. The statistics presented in this report show inflections in trends that would have been unimaginable only a few months ago. For instance, by the end of April, 212 countries, territories or areas had reported confirmed cases of COVID-19. In the first four months of 2020, more than 3 million cases of infection had been confirmed and more than 210,000 deaths. Some startling economic numbers include a 9 percent year-on-year fall in global production and manufacturing output, nowcasts that the value of global merchandise trade will fall by almost 27 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the largest fall in global commodity prices on record (-20.4 percent between February and March 2020). On the social side, we see the dramatic loss of employment–a decline of almost 10.5 percent in total working hours, the equivalent of 305 million full-time workers. Some 1.6 billion students have been affected by school closures and the crisis will push an additional 40–60 million people into extreme poverty. The report also provides a glimpse into the challenges facing national statistical offices at the moment. At a time when statistics are most needed, many statistical systems are struggling to compile basic statistics, highlighting once again the need to invest in data and statistics, and the importance of having modern national statistical systems and data infrastructure.

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