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COVID-19 could reverse 20 years of progress: emerging policy recommendations for young people in developing countries

Over the last two decades, our evidence has shown significant improvements in the overall living standards of Young Lives families. Young people are substantially better off than their parents and have aspirations for social mobility, despite the impact of persistent inequalities undermining educational outcomes and the chances of getting a decent job.

New research from the Young Lives COVID-19 phone survey in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam paints a worrying picture of how the economic and social impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and related restrictions could not only halt progress made over the last two generations, but could also reverse life chances and entrench existing inequalities for many young people, hitting those living in poor communities hardest.

Ensuring that government policies and responses, alongside related donor support, address the specific needs of young people should be a central part of COVID-19 recovery packages if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that no one is left behind.

This snapshot summarises key findings from the second call in our phone survey, highlighting how the pandemic is impacting the lives of young people in low- and middle-income countries, and presents emerging policy recommendations in response to these impacts.

A third call will be completed by the end of 2020, followed by further analysis to test and refine these emerging findings, including on education, work, mental health, and domestic violence. Young Lives will also continue to research the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 over forthcoming survey rounds in the next few years.