Have American youths been “stunted”?

At Axios, Erica Pandley argues that the pandemic has “stunted” the growth of America’s youth. There’s no doubt that young Americans have been set back by the pandemic and, in particular, by policies (some of them misguided) imposed to cope with it.

But stunted? To me, that suggests a permanence that’s not plausible.

The economic and social impact of the pandemic pale in comparison to those of the Great Depression. But the depression, though it must have left scars, didn’t have permanent adverse economic and social effects on the “Greatest Generation.” Broadly speaking, the down-and-out youths of the 1930s became the stalwarts of an unprecedently prosperous middle class in the 1950s and 1960s.

The long term prospects of today’s young Americans will have little, in anything, to do with the pandemic and the response thereto. They will be determined by (1) the work ethic and resiliency of America’s youth and (2) the nation’s policies going forward.

I’m mildly optimistic about the first determinant and mildly pessimistic about the second.

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