SDG 8 aims to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full employment, and decent work for all. But COVID-19 caused the deepest global recession in decades, reducing global GDP by 3.1 percent in 2020. Today, 95 percent of people live in countries with lower GDP growth than forecast before the pandemic.
One way to assess whether the world is on track to recover the losses sustained in 2020 is to compare the current projected levels of economic output to the forecasts prior to COVID-19. The January 2020 World Bank Global Economic Prospects Report was released before the declaration by the World Health Organization of the pandemic (which took place in March), and thus did not reflect the impact of COVID-19. At the time, the World Bank expected global GDP to grow by 2.5 percent from roughly $85 trillion in 2019 to close to $87 trillion by 2020. In reality global GDP fell by 3.1 percent in 2020, and the subsequent 2023 Global Economic Prospects shows a shortfall of close to $4.7 trillion from the initial 2020 forecast.
Looking ahead, global GDP is not currently forecast to catch up to expected GDP levels prior to COVID-19 in the foreseeable future. The dotted line in the above chart shows the pre-COVID forecasts of global GDP, while the solid line shows the current projections. As shown in the data visualization, by 2025, global GDP is expected to still fall $2.5 trillion short.
These shortfalls are evident across all regions. By 2025, economic output in East Asia & Pacific is expected to be around 6 percent below its pre-pandemic trend, with Latin America & Caribbean 4 percent lower, and South Asia 8 percent below prior expectations. Economic activity in Europe & Central Asia is expected to have declined in 2022. The GDP of Ukraine is estimated to have fallen 29 percent in 2022 due to the Russian invasion, and the output of the Russian Federation dropped 2 percent. GDP growth for the region as a whole is not expected to return to the pre-COVID trend in the coming years.
To learn more about where we stand in our progress towards sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full employment, and decent work for all, look at the data stories and visualizations of the eighth chapter of the Atlas.