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Low-Income Households Rank Remote Learning Less Effective Than Other Income Groups

Source: World Economic Forum

By mid-April 2020, 94% of students worldwide were affected by COVID-19. In two surveys of more than 100 countries, online learning platforms were scored 58% fairly effective and 36% very effective. But lower-income households share a different experience: This group is more likely to express that remote learning has not been effective during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic has prompted educators and students to adapt to new learning methods and technology. But low-income households are less likely to have access to technologies that allow for a sufficient adaptation to remote learning. In response, some education companies are creating learning content that can be accessed on SD cards and 2G and 3G networks. One company distributes donated smart devices for free to children with limited or no access to online education. 

Since reopening, some schools have adopted a hybrid approach to learning — a trend that may continue after the pandemic, as investments in some education technology companies reached into the billions in 2020. 

More People Are Living In Floodplains, Research Shows

More people are living on floodplains than ever

The proportion of the world’s population exposed to floods grew by 58–86 million between 2000 and 2015, according to new research using data from NASA. Led by Beth Tellman, a geography researcher at the University of Arizona, the study also found that 255 million people were affected at least once by major floods during the same time.

Analyzing flood events from the past 20 years, researchers found that floods caused by heavy rains and tropical storms have increased as a result of climate change as well. Marsh McLennan has also indexed which countries are most at-risk of flooding.

Recently, the U.S. government announced a renewed approach to flood insurance, introducing risk-based premiums for its National Flood Insurance Program. The program should be able to cover catastrophic losses without having to borrow funds from the U.S. Treasury as well as incentivize property owners to invest in loss reduction measures that would lower the cost of insurance, reflecting lower expected claims in the future. 

 

Lithium-Ion Battery Prices Fall to Lowest in a Decade

The average price of a lithium-ion battery has fallen more than 88% since 2010. What once cost more than a thousand dollars now costs less than $200, according to numbers from Bloomberg.

Companies like Tesla have made advancements in making battery technology available to mass consumers. The Powerwall, for instance, has solved a problem that long troubled the clean energy market: that solar power is most plentiful when people are least likely to be home — throughout the day. With cheap lithium-ion batteries, solar power can be stored and used when people come home to watch TV, cook dinner and engage in other activities that use up electricity.

Inexpensive batteries also increase the appeal of mass-market electric vehicles, which consumers have shown resistance to due to “range anxiety” — the notion that electric vehicles can only go so far without recharging. A decade of advancements in battery technology means that clean energy, along with its potential to contribute to a net-zero future, is now becoming more affordable.

Europe Outperforms the US in Boardroom Gender Diversity

Europe Outperforms the US in Boardroom Gender Diversity

Europe has done a better job working to bring more women into boardrooms than the U.S. has, according to an analysis done by Bloomberg. Almost 37% of board seats in Stoxx Europe 600 companies were held by women last month, compared to 30% of directors in S&P 500 companies.

The average number of female directors in Europe was at four in August, compared with an average board size of 11. The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index rose 2.3% in August, marginally underperforming the MSCI World Index, which was up 2.5%.

As companies look to improve their environmental, social and governance efforts, boardrooms are feeling the pressure to diversify their gender representation — and it appears that government regulation can be effective. According to Angela Berg, global diversity and inclusion consulting leader at Mercer, “more nations, especially in Europe, have implemented gender quotas for senior executives and boards, so they can benefit from more diverse points of view, drive change and enhance awareness of workplace gender issues.”

The Countries Where the Pandemic Has Lowered the Cost of Living

Note: Index shows estimated average expenses for a four-person family. The Rent Index estimates for renting one- and three-bedroom apartments in and outside of the city center.

Turkey, Colombia and Costa Rica are the top OECD countries that saw the biggest drops in cost of living between 2019 to 2021, according to BRINK analysis of numbers provided by online quality-of-life database Numbeo. 

While this may seem like a good thing, all three countries have struggling economies, which may explain the lower cost of living. Turkey is battling inflation and a weak currency, Colombia has crime and oil crises and Costa Rica is struggling with an impact on tourism.

Among the top 10 countries with higher index scores, South Korea, Germany and the United States have seen their rankings fall throughout the past 18 months. These are examples of countries that have done well economically throughout the pandemic. South Korea has seen exports rise 16.7% in 2021; Germany’s economy is forecasted to grow 3.1% this year; and the United States’ economy has shown relative resilience throughout the pandemic.

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