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Epidemics, pandemics and income inequality

Chrys Esseau-Thomas (), Omar Galarraga () and Sherif Khalifa
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Chrys Esseau-Thomas: International Monetary Fund

Health Economics Review, 2022, vol. 12, issue 1, 1-15

Abstract: Abstract The novel coronavirus is part of a series of infectious disease outbreaks that include: Ebola, Avian influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and Influenza A. This paper addresses the question of how do these epidemics and pandemics affect income inequality in countries around the world during the first two decades of this century. To achieve its objective, the paper develops a model that indicates a positive association between these health crises and income inequality. To empirically test our theoretical predictions, the paper explores the effect on the Gini coefficient of a dummy variable that indicates the occurrence of an epidemic or a pandemic in a country in a given year and the number of deaths per 100,000. To properly address potential endogeneity, we implement a Three-Stage-Least Squares technique. The estimation shows that the number of deaths per 100,000 population variable has a statistically significant positive effect on the Gini coefficient, especially when we incorporate COVID-19 data. This suggests that not only the occurrence, but also the health consequences of COVID-19 have a significant and economically important effect on income inequality. Background: The purpose of the study is to examine the effect of epidemics and pandemics on income inequality. This has important implications as the outcome of this study can guide policymakers into implementing policies that can mitigate the economic consequences of these health crises. Methods: The study is a cross country analysis using fixed effects estimation. To address potential endogeneity and determine causality, the paper uses the Three-Stage-Least-Squares estimation. Results: The paper finds that the number of epidemic deaths per 100,000 population variable has a statistically significant positive effect on the Gini coefficient, especially when we incorporate COVID-19 data. Conclusions: The paper finds that it is not only the occurrence of an epidemic, captured by the epidemics dummy variable, but also the health consequences, captured by the number of deaths per 100,000 population, that have a significant effect on income inequality. This is especially the case when we incorporate COVID-19 in our analysis. Trial registration: Not Applicable.

Keywords: Epidemics; Executive; Income inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D31 I14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Working Paper: Epidemics, Pandemics and Income Inequality (2020) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1186/s13561-022-00355-1

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