Impacts on Youth

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Release date: October 20, 2020

Key messages:

COVID-19 disrupted post-secondary studies – more so for those in services, trades and healthcare

Early in the pandemic, 26% of post-secondary students responding to a crowdsource questionnaire (100,000 participants) indicated their education was disrupted – impacts varied by discipline.

Proportion of participants reporting having some courses cancelled or postponed this term, by field of study

Description - Proportion of participants reporting having some courses cancelled or postponed this term, by field of study
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Field of study (appearing as row headers), Courses postponed/cancelled, calculated using proportion units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Field of study Courses postponed/cancelled (percent)
Arts, humanities and social sciences 25
Business and administration 18
Health care 41
Education 25
Law 25
Science 24
Engineering and engineering technology 18
Math and computer science 18
Services 56
Trades 53
Source: Statistics Canada, Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on postsecondary students.

Almost all participants (92%) reported that they had some or all of their courses moved online.

Proportion of participants who reported the following academic impacts:

Description - Proportion of participants who reported the following academic impacts

For many students, academic work was delayed, postponed or cancelled.

Proportion of participants who reported the following academic impacts:
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of participants who reported the following academic impacts: Percentage (appearing as column headers).
  Percentage
Some courses cancelled or postponed 26%
Not able to complete some or all courses 10%
Planned work placement delayed or cancelled 35%
Not able to complete credential as planned 11%
Some or all courses moved online 92%

Post-secondary students are also very concerned about their financial situation

Early on in the pandemic, post-secondary crowdsource survey respondents said they were very or extremely concerned about their financial situation – even after the announcement of the Canadian Emergency Student Benefits (CESB)…

Description - many students reported experiencing labou market disruptions

Many students reported experiencing labour market disruptions.

  • Participants with a job
    • Lost job or temporarily laid off 48%
    • Working reduced hours 26%
  • Participants with job prospects
    • Lost job prospects 49%

Source: Statistics Canada, Impacts of the COVID pandemic on post secondary students.

64% of the Class of 2015 still had not fully paid their debt 3 years after graduation

Financial impacts of COVID could affect students' ability to pay their debts.

According to the most recent National Graduates Survey, about half of the postsecondary graduates who completed their education in 2015 had student debt at graduation.

Description - According to the most recent National Graduates Survey, about half of the postsecondary graduates who completed their education in 2015 had student debt at graduation.

According to the most recent National Graduates Survey, about half of the postsecondary graduates who completed their education in 2015 had student debt at graduation.

Table 1
Percentage of graduates with student debt at graduation, by level of study, class of 2015
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of graduates with student debt at graduation. The information is grouped by Level of study (appearing as row headers), Percent (appearing as column headers).
Level of study Percentfootnote 1
Total 50
College 48
Bachelor's 53
Master's 46
Doctorate 36
Professionalfootnote 2 85
Table 2
Median student debt at graduation, by level of study, class of 2015
Table summary
This table displays the results of Median student debt at graduation. The information is grouped by Level of study (appearing as row headers), Constant dollars (appearing as column headers).
Level of study Constant dollars
Total 17,496
College 11,467
Bachelor's 20,004
Master's 19,735
Doctorate 25,401
ProfessionalImage 2 - footnote 1 60,287

Impacts of the pandemic on youth employment may be felt for years to come

Unemployment rate, 15 to 24 year-olds, Canada, February to August 2020

Description - Unemployment rate, 15 to 24 year-olds, Canada, February to August 2020
Unemployment rate, 15 to 24 year-olds, Canada, February to August 2020
  February March April May June July August
Males 11.7 15.6 25.9 29.5 28.1 26.7 25.6
Females 8.8 18.2 28.6 29.3 26.8 21.3 20.2
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.

The Class of 2020 could lose between $23,000 to $44,000 in cumulative earnings over the next five years if this year's annual youth unemployment hits 28.0%.

Cumulative five-year earnings loss after graduation due to economic downturn (Bachelor's degree graduates in 2020 by gender)

Description - Cumulative five-year earnings loss after graduation due to economic downturn (Bachelor's degree graduates in 2020 by gender)
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Youth unemployment rate in 2020 (percent) (appearing as row headers), Men and Women, calculated using earnings loss (2016 constant dollars) and earnings loss (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Youth unemployment rate in 2020 (percent) Men Women Men Women
earnings loss (2016 constant dollars) earnings loss (percent)
16 -3,491 -5,467 -1.45 -2.67
19 -9,590 -15,019 -3.98 -7.32
22 -15,689 -24,570 -6.52 -11.98
25 -21,788 -34,122 -9.05 -16.64
28 -27,887 -43,674 -11.58 -21.30
Notes: Shown are the cumulative earnings loss in dollars and percent over the first five years following graduation under different scenarios of the youth unemployment in 2020, compared to historial average earnings in first five years following graduation.
Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population and Labour Force Survey.

All these factors likely contribute to lower mental health among youth – they have experienced the greatest declines since the start of the pandemic

Proportion of Canadians reporting excellent or very good mental health pre and post COVID by age group, Canada, 2019, March and July 2020

Description - Proportion of Canadians reporting excellent or very good mental health pre and post COVID by age group, Canada, 2019, March and July 2020
Proportion of Canadians reporting excellent or very good mental health pre and post COVID by age group, Canada, 2019, March and July 2020
CCHS 2019 CPSS1 CPSS4
15 to 24 59.3 41.0 39.9
25 to 34 63.3 46.2 45.8
35 to 44 65.8 45.9 50.4
45 to 54 68.3 49.5 58.0
55 to 64 70.2 60.6 61.5
65 and older 70.8 67.5 70.0
Source(s): Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2019; Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 1; Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 4
Description - Activities engaged in by youth aged 15 to 30

Activities engaged in by youth aged 15 to 30

  • Communication with friends and family 93.6%
  • Exercise indoors 66.8%
  • Exercise outdoors 62.3%
  • Changing food choices 39.7%
  • Meditation 22.7%

Source: Impacts of COVID – impacts on mental health

Youth are also more likely to have increased their use of substances – particularly cannabis

Proportion of Canadians reporting an increase use of substances during COVID-19 by age group, July 2020

Description - Proportion of Canadians reporting an increase use of substances during COVID-19 by age group, July 2020
Proportion of Canadians reporting an increase use of substances during COVID-19 by age group, July 2020
  Cannabis Alcohol Tobacco
15 to 34 Increased 12.0 16.3 5.6
35 to 54 Increased 5.5 21.7 5.1
55+ Increased 1.5 11.5 3.9
Source(s): Statistics Canada. Canadian Perspectives Survey Series (CPSS), Wave 4, July 2020

As the pandemic unfolds, youth are less concerned about health risks and more likely to socialize – likely resulting in higher rates of COVID-19 cases but few hospitalizations

Proportion of individuals who were very concerned about the health risks of resuming activities, by activity type and age group, Canada, June, 2020

Description - Proportion of individuals who were very concerned about the health risks of resuming activities, by activity type and age group, Canada, June, 2020
Proportion of individuals who were very concerned about the health risks of resuming activities, by activity type and age group, Canada, June, 2020
Characteristics Attending shows, festivals, movies or sporting events Travelling by airplane Gathering in larger groups (e.g., weddings, religious services) Going to restaurants or bars Participating in organized sports or going to the gym
percent
Age group
15 to 34 (ref.) 59 51 48 31 28
35 to 54 64 65 54 40 40
55 to 64 68 71 64 38 43
65 and older 76 78 67 48 51
Source: Third iteration of the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series (June 2020).

As of September 27th, the distribution of cases among youth aged 20 to 29 is 17.6% compared with 13.2% among the elderly (80+ years of age) – however, the risk of hospitalization and death among youth remains low.

Distribution of hospitalized COVID cases by age and gender, Canada, September 27, 2020

Description - Distribution of hospitalized COVID cases by age and gender, Canada, September 27, 2020

Managing the pandemic moving forward – despite lower level of concerns regarding the health of others, youth are still willing to take necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus

Since the start of the pandemic, youth remain concerned about their health but less concerned about the health of others…

Youth are as likely as other age groups to take precautions and in some cases slightly more likely.

Targeted messaging to youth to remind them of the risk of COVID for elderly people. In the UK, young people are told not to "kill granny".

Proportion of individuals who are likely to take precaution by type of precaution and age group, Canada, July 2020

Description - Proportion of individuals who are likely to take precaution by type of precaution and age group, Canada, July 2020
Proportion of individuals who are likely to take precaution by type of precaution and age group, Canada, July 2020
15 to 34 35 to 49 50 to 64 65 and above
Avoided leaving house 74.0 72.4 73.4 76.6
Used social distancing when out in public 91.1 87.8 88.9 90.7
Avoided crowds and large gatherings 90.2 87.8 89.3 89.5
Washing your hands more regularly 91.2 93.9 92.4 93.3
Avoided touching your face 65.5 68.5 68.0 61.7
Cancelled travel 46.1 50.5 46.4 40.9
Worked from home 30.5 39.2 28.1 9.4
Wore a mask 85.8 81.2 84.4 85.2
Source: Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 4 Information sources consulted during the pandemic, July 2020

Managing the pandemic moving forward – the willingness of youth to take further action to fight the pandemic varies depending on the type of precaution

Proportion of Canadians who are very likely to use a contact tracing application by age group, Canada, 2020

Description - Proportion of Canadians who are very likely to use a contact tracing application by age group, Canada, 2020
Proportion of Canadians who are very likely to use a contact tracing application by age group, Canada, 2020
Age group Very likely
15 to 24 16
25 to 64 24
65 and older 33
Source: Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 3 (June 2020)

Just over half of youth (58%) indicated they would get a vaccine – higher than older adults but less compared with 70% among seniors.

Proportion of Canadians who are very likely to get a vaccine when it becomes available by age group, Canada, 2020

Description - Proportion of Canadians who are very likely to get a vaccine when it becomes available by age group, Canada, 2020
Proportion of Canadians who are very likely to get a vaccine when it becomes available by age group, Canada, 2020
  Willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine
Very likely
Age group percent 95% confidence limits
15-24 58.1 47.1 68.3
25-44 51.6 47.4 55.9
45-64 54.8 51.1 58.4
65+ (reference category) 70.3 65.3 74.9
Source: Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 3 (June 2020)

Looking forward

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