How COVID-19 is changing the world: A statistical perspective


The Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities has published the second volume of How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective. The report updates some of the global and regional trends presented in the first volume and offers a snapshot of how COVID-19 continues to affect the world today across multiple domains. The report also highlights the impact of the pandemic on specific regions and population groups.

The information contained in the report is even grimmer than in the first volume, confirming the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on the economic and social fabric of our societies. Some key findings are as follows:

  • Trends in COVID-19 caseloads differ widely by country, illustrating the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the importance of remaining vigilant in our battle against the virus;
  • Global foreign direct investment is now projected to fall by as much as 40 percent in 2020;
  • Global manufacturing output fell by 20 per cent in April 2020 compared to the same period of the previous year, accelerating an already declining trend;
  • The pandemic is pushing an additional 71 to 100 million people into extreme poverty;
  • Globally, the first quarter of 2020 saw a loss of the equivalent to 155 million full-time jobs, a number that increased to 400 million in the second quarter, with lower- and middle-income countries hardest hit;
  • Even before the pandemic, women did three times more unpaid domestic and care work than men; since the pandemic, however, data from rapid gender assessment surveys indicate that women in some regions are shouldering the extra burden of an increased workload, particularly in terms of childcare and household chores.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) contributed a section on world manufacturing production. While the majority of the observed countries, both industrialized and developing or emerging countries, registered a significant decrease in production, developing and emerging industrial economies witnessed more intense production decreases than industrialized countries. Only a few countries, such as the Republic of Korea, maintained a stable production level. Aggregate data for industrial groups reveal lower losses in June for electronics, machinery and electrical equipment, whereas in previous months the less affected groups were those producing basic consumer needs such as food and beverages.

The report also provides a glimpse of the challenges faced by national statistical systems. At a time when reliable information is more essential than ever, many systems are struggling to compile basic statistics, due in part to the pandemic but also because of a lack of resources needed to modernize operations and infrastructures.