Economic crises during pregnancy, early to middle childhood and adolescents can have serious long-term consequences. A better understanding of human developmental processes provides useful entry points for policies and programs. The following policy notes address Protecting and Promoting Human Development in Times of Economic Shocks for the following three development phases:
Early Childhood: Development from conception to five years of age can determine later life outcomes ranging from educational achievement, labor market success, to risky and delinquent behaviors. Crises can cause nutritional deprivation which can negatively affect physiological and neurological development during gestation and infancy. This can have potentially serious physical and mental consequences. Crises can also cause stress and mental health issues of primary caregivers hampering the process of establishing secure attachment relationships and reducing stimulating interactions. These factors are known to be key to the healthy development of socioemotional, behavioral and cognitive competencies. Successful safety net programs will address not only the resource constraints at the household level, but find ways to address the psychosocial aspects of economic hardship, strengthen the child-caregiver relationship, and make sure that the program reaches the most vulnerable: women of child bearing age, especially pregnant women, and very young children and their caregivers.
Middle Childhood: Approximately 6-12 years old is a crucial time for developing cognitive and socioemotional competencies, and economic crises can affect children’s development with long-lasting consequences for adolescence and adulthood. This note provides an overview of how economic shocks can affect children and their environment, and how policies and programs can protect and promote the child’s development in the face of adversity. Negative impact of crises on learning and other outcomes can be prevented and mitigated through targeted investments at the family and school level.
Adolescence: Failure to meet certain developmental milestones can have serious short- and long-term implications for the individual and society at large. This note provides an overview of how economic shocks can affect adolescent development, and how policies and programs can protect and promote human development in the face of adversity. Policies and programs to prevent and mitigate the negative impact of crises on schooling, employment, mental health and risky behaviors can be made more effective by incorporating psychosocial support and mentoring.