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Revista Latinoamericana de Desarrollo Económico

versión On-line ISSN 2074-4706


ANDERSEN, Lykke E.  y  GONZALES ROCABADO, Alejandra. Life and Death During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An analysis of cross-country differences in changes in quantity and quality of life. rlde [online]. 2021, n.35, pp.9-57. ISSN 2074-4706.

This study carries out a cross-country analysis of changes in quantity and quality of life during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic for 124 countries. Changes in the quantity of life are measured as life years lost to COVID-19, including excess deaths not officially reported as COVID-19 deaths. Changes in quality of life are proxied by the average change in daily mobility, compared to a pre-COVID baseline. We find a significant negative correlation between the two, meaning that the countries with the biggest reductions in mobility are also the countries with the biggest losses of life years. We calculate that about 48 million life years were lost during the first year of the pandemic, corresponding to 0.018% of all expected life years. For comparison, at least double the amount of life years are lost every year due to children dying of diarrhea. About 28 million life years are created every day from babies being born, so the first year of the pandemic set us back less than two days in terms of quantity of life. The setbacks in terms of quality of life are several orders of magnitude larger. Some countries have suffered close to a 50% reduction in mobility sustained over 12 months, with devastating effects on many aspects of quality of life. We estimate that 1.2 billion quality life years were lost due to mobility reductions, which is 25 times as many as life years lost due to COVID-19 related deaths during the first year of the pandemic.

Palabras clave : COVID-19; pandemic; life years; mobility; quality of life.

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