The New Report on the World Social Situation 2011: The Global Social Crisis, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), finds many governments did not pay sufficient attention to the social implications of the global economic crisis. The report says economic policies considered in isolation from their social consequences often create dire results for people’s nutrition, health and education, which, in turn, adversely affect long-term economic growth.
“The economic crisis reminds us that it is essential for people to be healthy, educated, adequately housed and well fed to be more productive and better able to contribute to society,” said Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN-DESA Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development.
Recovery has been uneven and still remains fragile, and, the report says, wide-ranging negative social outcomes linger from the global economic downturn.
Long-term impacts on education, health
According to the report, the full impact of the crisis on social progress in areas such as education and health is not immediately clear and will only become fully evident over time. The increased levels of poverty, hunger and unemployment due to the global crisis will continue to affect billions of people for years to come.
The report states that during times of financial crisis, households often adopt coping strategies, such as changing spending patterns. However, these coping strategies can negatively influence education, health and nutrition, which may lead to lifelong deficits for the children affected and thus perpetuate poverty.
Increasing expenditure to expand social protection and improve access to education and health services, the report says, will help ensure more inclusive development with stronger domestic demand and a more solid foundation for future growth.
“There is renewed realization that social policy considerations, especially productive employment, must be given greater importance within economic policy,” Jomo said. “The disconnect between economic policies and their social consequences can create a vicious circle of slow growth and poor social progress”.