Listen to the data. Follow the data. Make decisions based on numbers and facts. These words become more relevant and crucial as the world plans for the next steps to COVID-19, such as how to safely reopen borders and businesses, support those most affected by the crisis and address worsening inequalities. It is thus imperative for governments and decision-makers to have access to the best information available.
Committed to the principle on providing high-quality, comparable statistics that are accessible for all, the international statistics community, through the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA), has worked together to produce a report to support decision-making, during and after the crisis.
The report, How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective, presents a snapshot of some of the latest information available on how COVID-19 is affecting the world today. For example, global hours worked could drop by 10.5% in the 2nd quarter of 2020, equivalent to 305 million full-time workers. With 740 million women globally in informal employment and a majority employed in services, women are particularly hard-hit. The crisis is pushing about 40–60 million people into extreme poverty, and sub-Saharan Africa might be the region most affected.
The quantitative knowledge presented in the report – based on the contributions of 36 international organizations, including UN Women – puts a spotlight on the effects of the crisis for some groups, like women and children, as well as some geographical regions. Specifically, UN Women underscores that while women are on the frontline of battling the crisis, gender equality is in jeopardy.
The report also shows the different impacts on public and private life – from economic and environmental fluctuations or disruptions in public services such as civil aviation and postal services, to changes in individuals’ income, education, employment, domestic workload and exposure to violence.
The report also provides a glimpse into the challenges national statistical systems now face. At a time when statistics are most needed, many entities are struggling to compile basic statistics, mainly due to mobility restrictions. This highlights the need to invest in data and statistics, and the importance of having modern national statistical systems and data infrastructure. Several countries have launched open platforms for citizens to provide their governments with assessments of the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19, ensuring continued flow of statistics at a time when citizens need it most.
The report has been coordinated by the CCSA secretariat (UN-DESA) and the statistics team at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The CCSA is chaired by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank. For a more complete picture of sector-specific data, visit the websites of the CCSA and other contributing organizations.