The COVID-19 crisis is now widely seen as the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. In January, the IMF expected global income to grow 3 percent; it is now forecast to fall 3 percent, much worse than during the Great Recession of 2008-09. Behind this dire statistic is an even grimmer possibility: if past pandemics are any guide, the toll on poorer and vulnerable segments of society will be several times worse. Indeed, a recent poll of top economists found that the vast majority felt the COVID-19 pandemic will worsen inequality, in part through its disproportionate impact on low-skilled workers.
Our evidence supports concerns about the adverse distributional impacts of pandemics. We find that major epidemics in this century have raised income inequality and hurt employment prospects of those with only a basic education while scarcely affecting employment of people with advanced degrees.
We focus on five major events—SARS (2003), H1N1 (2009), MERS (2012), Ebola (2014) and Zika (2016)—and trace out their distributional effects in the five […]
By David Lipton
Across sub-Saharan Africa, a visit to a school offers both a vision of hope for the future, and a reminder of the difficulties in attaining that vision. My recent visit to Sierra Leone and Niger brought this duality into sharp focus. […]
Over the past two decades, sub-Saharan Africa has made considerable economic progress: extreme poverty levels have declined by one third; life expectancy has increased by a fifth; and real per capita income has grown by about 50 percent on average. Yet, sub-Saharan Africa is still only half-way to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. […]