COVID-19 aggravating inequalities

  • Opinion by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Anis Chowdhury (kuala lumpur and sydney)
  • Inter Press Service

?? Don’t leave anyone out ?? has become the rallying cry of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Reducing inequalities within and between countries is now one tenth of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015. Uneven and uneven economic growth on decades have deepened the divides within and between countries. Thus, growing inequality and exclusion has been highlighted in previous WSRs onInequalities matter, The imperative of inclusive development and Promote inclusion through social protection.

UNDP Human Development Report 2019 (HDR 2019) drew attention to deep inequalities in education and health. So what are the disparities in basic abilities ?? (eg primary education and life expectancy) are declining, inequalities in capacity building ?? (eg higher education) are developing.

Meanwhile, inequalities associated with social characteristics, such as ethnicity and gender, have widened. The Oxfam Davos report of January 2020, Treatment time, highlighted wealth inequalities as the number of billionaires has doubled over the past decade to reach 2,153 billionaires, holding more than the bottom 60 percent of 4.6 billion.

Factors of inequalities
WSR 2020 shows that the richest generally increased their income shares between 1990 and 2015. With large and growing disparities in public social benefits, the prospects for upward social mobility from one generation to the next is diminishing.

The capture of the state by wealthy elites and the commensurate decline in workers’ bargaining power increased inequalities. Real wage increases lag behind productivity growth as executive pay skyrockets and regressive tax trends favor the wealthy and cut back on public services, such as healthcare.

Polarizing megatrends
The HDR 2019 identifies climate change and rapid technological innovation as two megatrends that exacerbate inequalities, with the WSR adding urbanization and international migration. Technical change not only supports progress, creating more meaningful new jobs, but also displaces workers and increases income inequality.

Meanwhile, global warming is negatively impacting the lives of many people, especially in the poorest countries of the world, deepening inequalities. While climate action will result in job losses in carbon-intensive activities, saving energy and renewables are likely to increase net employment.

International migration benefits migrants, their countries of origin (through remittances) and their host countries. But can immigrant labor increase host countries ?? inequalities taking ?? dangerous, dirty, depressed ?? and low-skilled work, lowering wages, especially for all unskilled workers, while professional migration is “brain drain”, create new inequalities and worsen existing ones.

COVID-19 and divergence
COVID-19 may exacerbate differences between countries due to its uneven economic impacts due to different costs and the effectiveness of containment, relief and recovery measures, influenced by past inequalities in health and health care as well as by state capacities.

Low-income countries have poorer health conditions, weaker health care and social protection systems, and less administrative and institutional capacities, including pandemic preparedness and response capacities. Consequently, they are more vulnerable to contagion, while not having the means to react effectively.

Rising protectionism and escalating trade tensions between the United States and China have compounded the challenges facing developing countries which are also facing declining trade, aid, remittances, export prices and investments. ??Vaccine nationalism?? will worsen their situation.

COVID-19 and inequalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many existing inequalities and could push 71 million more people into extreme poverty in 2020, the first global increase since 1998, according to the UN 2020 SDG Report.

With 55% of the world’s population without any social protection, the loss of income means poverty and hunger for many more. Before COVID-19, 690 million were chronically food insecure or hungry 113 million suffered from severe acute food insecurity, or near famine, mainly due to past shocks.

While those in the informal sector generally lack decent working conditions and social protection, most workers do not have the means or capacity to work from home while in closed shelters. because most of the work is not easily done remotely, even by those with a digital infrastructure.

Most struggled to survive. Relief measures have not helped many vulnerable households, while recovery policies have done little for limited liquidity small and microenterprises facing problems access capital, credit and liquidity, even in normal times.

Meanwhile, many billionaires around the world have been very successful? during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing their already huge fortunes to a record $ 10.2 trillion, according to a UBS-PwC report.

General school closures disrupt not only the education of young people, but also school feeding and children’s nutrition. Limited access to health services makes matters worse, as already weak health systems are still overburdened.

Unexpected crossroads
The UN and Oxfam reports show that growing inequality is not inevitable. The world experienced sustained growth with a decrease in inequalities in the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s. With the neoliberal counterrevolution against development and the Keynesian economy, the commitments of governments in favor of development and the fight against inequalities have diminished.

A 2020 Oxfam note the report, ?? only one in six countries … spent enough on health, only a third of the global workforce had adequate social protection and in over 100 countries at least one in three workers had no labor protection … As a result, many have faced death and misery, and inequalities are increasing dramatically.

Governments must adopt bold policies to drastically narrow the gap between rich and poor and avoid a K-shaped recovery. Internationally, improved multilateralism can help stem vaccine nationalism, rising Jingoist protectionism and Debilitating neoliberal trade and investment agreements.

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© Inter Press Service (2020) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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