Datanet Studio - The Economic Toll of COVID-19 Pandemic

The Economic Toll of COVID-19 Pandemic

Published on August 17th, 2021 by Datanet Studio

😷 As the year 2020 unfolded, country after country saw the horrifying devastation caused by the spread of Covid-19 virus. Cities and borders went to lockdown, markets shuttered and workers stayed home to stop medical services getting overwhelmed. While the lockdowns were largely able to keep the virus from getting completely out of control, the economic impact of lockdowns started to become clearer.

Lost jobs, closed factories and reduced incomes upended the economic growth and prosperity of almost every country. However, the impact was not uniform and similar to the human toll, each country has it's own story of how the virus upended their economy.

In this series, we analyze economic data to visualize and understand the story of economic toll of Covid-19 pandemic.

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We start by looking at the overall impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all major economies. GDP is the total monetary value of all goods and services and is a standard measure of overall broad domestic production of a country. Though it has limitations, measuring rate of change in GDP is a good may to compare relative growths of various economies.

In the map below, we compare the 2020 GDP change of each country with their last 5 year average change (2015-2019). A bigger difference indicate that the country faced a comparative bigger shock. For example, United States saw a GDP decline of -3.5% in 2020 compared of a 5 year average growth of +2.46% or a net change of -5.96%

Data Source: International Monetary Fund (

We can draw some conclusions about the impact from this map. Many South American countries that witnessed a severe outbreak in 2020 and imposed long lockdowns on public movement saw significant contraction in their economic activites. Similar story played out in the other half of the globe, where India, a major economy in South Asia, imposed one of the most stringent lockdown and border control measures in the world, and that corresponded to a drastic reduction in its economic output.

Let's take a look at the economic indicators of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries. G-7 is an organization comprising of some of the world's biggest and most developed economies - France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), and Canada.

Data Source: International Monetary Fund (

Among the G-7 nations, United Kingdom saw the most impact as GDP declined a massive -9.9% compared to an average five year growth of +1.7%, giving a net index of -11.6%.

On the other end, while Japan also introduced major travel restrictions and border control measures to minimize virus impact, internally it was able to keep its economy comparively more open, resulting in a net drop of only -5.8%

Other European and North American countries saw various waves and lockdowns of varying degrees.

Many small economies of Africa and Central Asia actually fared much better than the big economies, some actually even witnessing an increase in their GDP output. Most of these countries are not heavily dependent on international travel and are also not major players in the global trade. While that makes their relative size smaller, it insulates them from effects of widespread border restrictions felt in many other countries. Countries in regions like South-East Asia and Western Europe, with higher dependence on tourism and international business activities, felt the impact more seriously. Without the luxury of a huge domestic market, many of these countries are now striving to keep their borders open while simultaneously keeping the virus at bay.

United States, Brazil and China are examples of three big economies with large domestic market. United States and Brazil largely kept their economies open after initial period of lockdowns, resulting in hige number of cases. However, it meant that they were somewhat able to manage the economic damage. China got help from its manufacturing sector as well as a booming domestic market. Still, it ended 2020 with an index of -4.36%.

In conclusion, the economic fallout of the virus has been felt unevenly across various countries. The path to recovery still remains uncertain as global travel remains largely suspended in 2021. Countries are pinning hopes on widespread vaccination to stop the spread of virus as well as its economic damage.

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