KidsRights Index 2021: Devastating impact of global pandemic on children worldwide

The negative impacts of the global pandemic on children across the world is far worse than first feared. During the COVID-19 pandemic 1.5 billion youngsters were excluded from education. It is one of the outcomes of the KidsRights Index 2021, that was released on Thursday 3 June.

Special attention to the impact of the pandemic

The ninth consecutive edition of the KidsRights Index, which is developed in collaboration with Erasmus School of Economics and the International Institute of Social Studies, pays special attention to the true impact of the pandemic on the children of the world. The Index highlights four key impacts of the pandemic in relation to children: violence against children; non COVID-19 vaccinations for children; education and the related issue of school meals; and mental health and wellbeing. Founding Chairman of the International Children’s Rights organisation KidsRights Marc Dullaert, and former Chairman of the European Network of Ombudsmen for Children, says: ‘We had to address the devastating impacts and outcomes of COVID-19, and it has unfortunately exceeded our predictions at the outset last year.’

Rise in poverty leads to increase in child labour

According to the Index 168 million children were not educated due to the fact that schools have been closed for almost a full year and an additional 142 million kids fell into material poverty. Each one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percentage point increase in child labour. Through disruption to healthcare systems, particularly in the developing world where routine immunisation programmes for diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea were affected, 80 million children under the age of one in at least 68 countries may miss out on life-saving vaccines. ‘This will lead to serious, long-term repercussions for the health of future generations’, says Dullaert. ‘The full extent of this impact is yet to manifest itself, we are not there yet, and governments will need measures and policies long into the future to deal with this post COVID-19 crisis.’

About the KidsRights Index

The annual KidsRights Index is the first and only global ranking of 182 countries worldwide that annually measures how children’s rights are respected, and to what extent countries are committed to improving the rights of children. It is based on the nearly universally ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and provides a general overview of country performance on children’s rights. It also creates a basis for making concrete evidence-based recommendations on how governments might improve on various aspects of children’s rights. The Index domains are: Right to Life; Right to Health; Right to Education; Right to Protection; and Enabling Environment for Child Rights.

The most striking international results from the KidsRights Index 2021 in a row:

Rich countries score lowest on best available budget

Industrialised countries release relatively little budget for realising children's rights, they score the lowest on 'Best available budgets'.

Africa scores highest in the best interest of the child indicator

The African continent ranked highest of the continents in Domain 5, Enabling Environment for Child Rights.

60% of countries achieve the lowest score on discrimination

There is a high degree of discrimination within different countries. No country has achieved the highest achievable score for non-discrimination indicator, and more than 60% of the countries have achieved the lowest score.

View the entire list of the KidsRights Index 2021 at

More information

For more information, please contact Ronald de Groot, Media & Public Relations Officer at Erasmus School of Economics:, or +31 6 53 641 846.

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