The impacts on health in early life cumulatively influences the next stages all the way through old age. The life course model allows us to visualize new life choices within the context of COVID-19 (summary table at the bottom).


Everyone is affected including persons not yet born and those in early life. The stress felt by pregnant women and expectant fathers translate in utero and can lead to premature births. Additionally, fathers may be more involved with young children because of the shift to at-home work which benefits young children. However, toddlers are sensitive to changes that they cannot yet understand and will need to be monitored to prevent lasting negative health effects.


Children tend to develop anxiety in seeing parents distressed in tandem with an introduction of new social rules about dangers that they cannot see. Children may experience lasting scars from poor nutrition, anxiety, family instability, domestic violence since they are undergoing stress during pivotal times in development.

Adolescent and Young Adulthood

Adolescents and young adults may be more prone to PTSD diagnoses in the future due to excessive screen exposure prompted by the pandemic. Additionally, they may experience forgone educational opportunities limiting their ability to succeed in future endeavors.

Young adults are often blamed for disregarding protective measures. Furthermore, young adults may experience difficulty gaining work experience and never catch up to earlier cohorts in socio-economic attainment which ultimately leads to poorer health outcomes.


Adulthood career and family formation are disrupted. This adds “insult to injury” for millennials in their thirties who went through the 2008 recession. Relationships at this stage are at risk–partnerships may be difficult to form and sustain. Additionally,  excess stress has been put on women of working age to support themselves, their families, potentially newborns; all of which they may have to tackle alone.


The Elderly are faced with increased instances of discrimination and loneliness as they may be forced into permanent retirement. COVID-19 protocols have required many people of old age to say goodbye from a distance and die alone. They may opt to age in place instead of at elderly centers because these places have become high risk for contracting COVID-19, especially when they are more likely to develop a severe case. At this stage, more elderly have shown a greater value for positive and meaningful life  experiences due to these dire circumstances.


The pandemic has underscored the reality that life’s choices are limited. Cohorts may never catch up to earlier and later cohorts; have continuing disadvantages that lead to poor health outcomes later in life. Markets have stagnated and people may be stranded away from loved ones due to travel restrictions.

The lasting effects of outliving a partner, child, or loved ones who died from COVID-19 destabilizes mental health. However, the pandemic has highlighted existing inequity and led to more instances of the use of collective action to address systemic racism. The cumulative effects of COVID-19 requires that we address the weaknesses in our social systems. The life course model allows us to acknowledge intervention points at each life stage to help us all work toward a healthier future.

HealthPersonal Control & PlanningSocial Relationships & Family
Education & Training
Work and Careers
Migration & Mobility
The stress felt by pregnant women and expectant fathers translates in utero and can lead to premature births

Fathers more involved; toddlers sensitive to changes that are not understood


ChildhoodLasting scars from poor nutrition, anxiety, family instability, domestic violence; excessive screen exposure can lead to PTSDAmount/lack of resources affects remote learning quality
High unemployment rates and greater health risk as “Gig Economy” workersMaybe blamed for disregarding protective measuresDifficulty gaining work experienceDelayed educational transitions and adulthood in navigating labor, housing and relationships 
Cumulative impact from loss of training, experience and promotion

Postponed or forgone education abroad or career moves

AdulthoodDisruption and delayed careIncreased burden from supporting relatives how may not be settled in employment and housingPostponement of partnering or accelerated separation; child delivery/birth alone; maybe thrusted into a caregiver roleLong-term earning negatively impacted for those entering workforceLabor market exclusion; “lost generation” with truncated career and family formation; adding “insult to injury” for cohort in thirties who went through 2008 recession
Families left behind by seasonal workers
Old Age
Higher risk for severe COVID-19Optimize positive and meaningful experiencesDying alone or saying goodbye from a distanceAgeism and forcing permanent retirementAging in place instead of elderly centers that have become high risk for COVID-19
Lifetime/ cumulativeCohorts may never catch up to earlier and later cohorts; have continuing disadvantages that lead to poor health outcomes later in lifeUsing collective agency to address systemic racism when individual control loss
Outliving partner or child who died from COVID-19
More openness and responsiveness for ongoing educationCareer inequalities; fewer “weak/bridge ties” lessen employment opportunitiesLimited migration, stranded and less globalization of labor markets


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