Pakistan Institute of Development Economics


Covid-19 and structural inequalities 

Publication Year : 2020
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The 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people around the world. This rivalled World War II as the deadliest event in human history that cost as much as 4.8% of the global production. While the cost of the Covid-19 outbreak in terms of human lives is fortunately not expected to be as grave as that of the Spanish flu, its economic cost may yet prove to be much higher. Worse still, these economic losses may hit the vulnerable households disproportionately and exacerbate existing structural inequities. The virus does not discriminate between humans. The prevailing economic environment, however, certainly does. Workers in the formal sector are entitled to pay, pension and sick leaves even when the workplace gets closed, as has been done during the on-going partial lockdown. Workers in informal occupations, however, do not enjoy this financial cushion, and unlike qualified workers, cannot work from home. They must consequently rely on their savings to see them through hard times such as these.