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Andrea Jamile Ruiz De la Mora

Pandemic Generation: the inequality behind the face mask.

- The impact of the pandemic has been much more noticeable in countries with less infrastructure, as several factors are widening a painful gap between development and recession.

Pandemic Generation: the inequality behind the face mask.

The current global crisis derived from one of the events with the greatest impact of the 21st century has tested our society's ability to adapt to handle times of crisis that threaten to repeat themselves in the not so distant future. Inevitably, decision-making and the way in which socioeconomic effects are being addressed are defining the course of the new generations. As we continue to move towards a new normal, the "Pandemic" generation will take center stage in a new post-lockdown era.

Who are the Pandemials?

Social isolation, the digital divide and labor automation are just some of the characteristics that define this generation.

Contrary to what one might think, the Pandemials are conceived by the merger between the last two generations: The Millennial and Generation Z. The reason is explained by the World Economic Forum through a series of surveys of expert groups and with With the greatest influence within the international community, they identified groups of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 as the main individuals that make up this generation. Through the 2021 Global Risk Report, it notes the critical state that is approaching an era of "loss of opportunities", since they are the ones who will pay the social, environmental, economic and cultural consequences of a global society fractured by the unequal growth that has increased over time. It is worth mentioning that some studies tend to do justice to the name, counting only people between the ages of 0 and 5, referring to those who will eventually have grown up within a new post-Covid rhythm of life.

Under this order of ideas, one of the most relevant characteristics of the so-called "Lost Generation" is how accustomed they are to living in environments with a tendency to instability and uncertainty. The key precedent that marks this generation stems from the repercussions caused by the Financial Crisis of 2008; increasing the unemployment rate and the disruption of the labor markets that, up to the present, continues to be one of the major causes of the socioeconomic havoc that impacts the less developed economies, directly influencing the prosperity of the various youth. In no more than a decade, COVID-19 has become the second global crisis that this generation must face, seeing themselves in the obligation to launch their professional careers on the precariousness of a system collapsed to attend to and alleviate the health emergency; Pandemials have been left totally unprotected with few options to innovate and aspire to financial freedom, to mention just a few aspects. Additionally, the acceleration of the technological race caused by social isolation measures is causing a significant digital lag for more than 30% of the young population, reducing the possibilities of accessing education and getting involved in the workplace in the near future.

There is a greater loss of opportunities in less developed countries.

The latest World Bank Report highlights that the lack of access to education for girls and women causes countries losses of billions of dollars._

The impact has been much more noticeable in countries with less infrastructure, since confinement, school closures, normalized gender violence, economic recession, and abrupt migration to digital technologies are widening a painful gap between evolution and recession. According to a recent United Nations report, more than 120 million girls are at risk of experiencing some type of sexual or domestic violence during confinement, in addition to the fact that the possibility of continuing their studies today is not an option while schools remain closed. Similarly in regions such as Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and the Caribbean; The situation has caused more than 80% of students to drop out of institutions despite the efforts that have been made to continue with distance education plans, either due to the lack of Internet access in rural areas or the inability to acquire devices. electronics where to take classes.

By default, the failure to correctly manage the various crises that frequently arise within these regions, young people have been the first to notice the degree of inequality in which they live, the main symptom of social polarization. The Arab springs in 2011, the concern for the effects of climate change and the social movements in favor of Human Rights are mostly led by this generation motivated by the feeling of injustice, but above all by concern for their future.

Unemployment: the pandemic stamp.

According to recent data from the World Bank, in Latin America there are at least 10 million unemployed people and 20,936 young people without education, employment or training. The acceleration of digital technologies and the shift towards teleworking have turned an unfair and vulnerable work environment in the face of the possibility of another event like the one that is being witnessed. As the markets become less flexible, it challenges young graduates to be able to fit into the job expectations of employers, reflecting in the majority an apparent "lack" of skills and aptitudes. Today's labor dynamics require employees to have knowledge beyond the bachelor's level, turning the job search into an overwhelming process for many and with a strong feeling of demotivation and frustration since the equal opportunities to aspire to have a job are increasingly reduced. decent quality of life in terms of housing, economic stability and financial plans for retirement. Within those economies where the informal sector predominates, it is projected that the unemployed groups will have a permanent loss of income of 2% once the contingency has passed.

“When there is a crisis, young people are among the first to lose their jobs, mainly those in the informal economy, and in sectors such as tourism, transport, non-electronic commerce and other services in which teleworking is not an option option"

Vinícius Carbalho Pinheiro, Regional Director of the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (2020).

Automation is a phenomenon that ironically impacts those with more professional training. The Global Youth Employment Report 2020 notes that it "shows that skills acquired through job-specific vocational training tend to become obsolete more quickly...than skills acquired in general education programmes."_ Below is a table of the International Labor Organization where the sectors that are being revolutionized by the implementation of new technologies capable of replacing human labor are identified, in which the manufacturing sectors, commerce and primary activities stand out.

Adverse effects on mental health.

As previously mentioned, Pandemials are characterized by living under a state of alert and uncertainty due to the constant suffering of crises. The background of this behavior within the social sphere goes back to the tendencies that they had to face during the first years of life as individuals but in a massive way; Their accumulation explains the frequency with which mental disorders are manifesting among young people between 15 and 25, such as anxiety and depression. Consequently, after the first months of 2020 the level of psychological distress has increased to 40% in young people and 30% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 were admitted to a mental institute. This analysis does not make it clear that the new generations have a low percentage of tolerance towards adverse scenarios since the recovery stages are always interrupted by the overflow of other risks.

The Economic Recession due to Covid19 has caused a feeling of frustration and hopelessness in the face of the incapacity due to the lack of economic solvency of the young generations, as well as job opportunities are increasingly scarce.

Another approach to the impacts of mental health is the interconnectivity that society has developed in a remote way. In other words, the use of digital media has escalated to a higher level of power over Internet users that promises to continue to gain strength as long as the isolation measures continue to be prolonged. However, not enough importance has been given to the fact that the use of digital platforms as a tool to bombard information is causing serious damage to mental health through the negative and catastrophic connotations used in social networks with the desire to influence viewers in specific ways for political and strategic ends, regardless of the consequences.

Final considerations.

It is true that the Pandemic generation has in favor of the new forms of digitization that will allow it to simplify processes effectively and satisfy the fast pace with which humanity moves. However, this cannot happen as long as inequality continues to diversify. This gap is the result of the fragmentation of a global system that has only focused its efforts to abolish barriers but has never looked towards its prevention and adaptation. Although it is too early to draw conclusions, the side effects that the virus has brought with it are clear. Addressing inequality seen from all possible contrasts is one of the priority tasks of local and national actors so that the next generations have the necessary tools and are capable of acting in a resilient manner towards future unprecedented events.


    World Economic Forum, (2021)»Pandemials: Youth in an age of loss opportunity» en Global Risk Report 16th Edition

    OIT, (2020), «ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Fourth Edition» .Consultado en:—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/briefingnote/wcms_745963.pdf

    OIT, (2020) «Desempleo, informalidad e inactividad asedian a los jóvenes en América Latina y el Caribe» en Informe Mundial sobre el Empleo Juvenil. Consultado en :

    Mayte Rius, (2021) «La irrupción de los pandemials: ¿eres uno de ellos?». Consultado en :

    Nita Bhalla, (2020) «Futures destroyed: COVID-19 unleashes’ shadow pandemics’ on Africa´s girls . Consultado en :

    Banco Mundial, «Proporción de jóvenes sin educación, empleo ni capacitación, total (% de la población total de jóvenes)- Latin America & Caribbean. Consultado en :

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