Nigeria records 0.36 points in World Bank’s 2020 human capital index

Nigeria recorded 0.36 points in the World Bank Group’s 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), indicating 0.01 basis points compared to 0.35 recorded in 2018.

The World Bank said in the new report released on Wednesday that 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor reside in countries with an HCI under 0.5.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens hard-won gains in health and education over the past decade, especially in the poorest countries, a new World Bank Group analysis finds. Investments in human capital—the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives—are key to unlocking a child’s potential and improving economic growth in every country.

The World Bank Group’s 2020 Human Capital Index includes health and education data for 174 countries – covering 98 percent of the world’s population – up to March 2020, providing a pre-pandemic baseline on the health and education of children. The analysis shows that pre-pandemic, most countries had made steady progress in building the human capital of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries. Despite this progress, and even before the effects of the pandemic, a child born in a typical country could expect to achieve just 56 percent of their potential human capital, relative to a benchmark of complete education and full health.

“The pandemic puts at risk the decade’s progress in building human capital, including the improvements in health, survival rates, school enrollment, and reduced stunting. The economic impact of the pandemic has been particularly deep for women and for the most disadvantaged families, leaving many vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Protecting and investing in people is vital as countries work to lay the foundation for sustainable, inclusive recoveries, and future growth.”

Due to the pandemic’s impact, most children – more than 1 billion – have been out of school and could lose out, on average, half a year of schooling, adjusted for learning, translating into considerable monetary losses. Data also shows significant disruptions to essential health services for women and children, with many children missing out on crucial vaccinations.

According to the report, expected years of school tend to be lowest in low-income countries, and regional averages are lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This suggests that much work remains to be done to close the gap in low-income countries.

All five components of the index increase with income, though at a different pace. Child survival rates range from 0.998 (2 deaths per 1,000 live births) in the richest countries to around 0.880 (120 deaths per 1,000 live births) in the poorest countries, reflecting the disproportionate burden of child mortality that low-income countries continue to face.

Child survival rates also vary significantly by region, with economies in the Europe and Central Asia region bundled at the top of the distribution and the lowest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, in countries like Chad, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. However, in a number of economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Burundi, Malawi, or Rwanda, child survival rates are significantly higher than their level of GDP would predict.

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