The multidimensional, intersecting impacts of COVID-19 on young people's lives: Evidence from cross-sectional surveys in Mexico, India, and Kenya

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Purpose: Studies have documented diverse adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people's lives—for instance on mental health, education/employment prospects, and intrafamily violence. We sought to generate much-needed evidence regarding whether, and which, young people are experiencing multiple intersecting effects. Methods: Data come from cross-sectional surveys with young people ages 15–25 years in Mexico (nationwide, n = 55,692), Kenya (four counties, n = 2,750), and India (two states, n = 3,537), collected from late 2020 to early 2022. We used latent class analysis to identify subgroups based on multiple adverse effects, then examined associations between these subgroups and COVID-19 infections/family deaths, and sociodemographic characteristics. Results: We found prevalent adverse impacts overall and two distinct subgroups in each country—one experiencing higher levels of all impacts, such as on mental health (44%–78% across countries), education/employment (22%–84%), intrafamily violence (22%–49%), and friendships (66%–86%). This subgroup comprised 40% of the sample in Mexico, 25% in Kenya, and 35% in India. In multivariate analyses, this group consistently had greater odds of experiencing COVID-19-related infections and deaths of loved ones. They were more likely socioeconomically disadvantaged, older, urban residents. Associations with other characteristics were country-specific. Discussion: This study provides novel cross-country evidence that a subgroup of young people has experienced intersecting adverse impacts of COVID-19 on their lives. Findings also confirm prior evidence of multiple elevated vulnerabilities in general. Expanded provision of multiple layers of support is required, particularly for the most vulnerable subgroup, as are multi-sectoral policies and interventions to prevent intersectional effects in future times of crisis.