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Covid-19 and the poor

Jayant Menon ()

Departmental Working Papers from The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics

Abstract: COVID-19 not only highlights existing inequalities, it exacerbates them. Not only do the poor have higher COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, they suffer disproportionately from curtailment measures. As governments try and flatten the infection curve, the misery curve measuring the loss of incomes, livelihoods and lives has been rising. These costs tend to accelerate the longer the lockdown is in place, contributing to an increase in violations that can reduce the effectiveness of the measure itself. In countries without broad-based safety nets, it is no longer a choice between lives and livelihoods because they are the same for the poor. While developed nations debate the trade-off between saving lives and destroying livelihoods, poor countries must consider the trade-off between lives lost through destroyed livelihoods and lives lost to the virus. These ground realities suggest that targeted, timebound measures rather than prolonged general lockdowns should be considered in poor countries, should infections start rising, while increasing targeted testing.

Keywords: COVID-19; lockdown; flattening the curve; misery curve; poverty (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I15 I18 I38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 19 pages
Date: 2020
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