The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to lead to an increase in inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began. The virus has exposed, fed off and increased existing inequalities of wealth, gender and race. Over two million people have died, and hundreds of millions of people are being forced into poverty while many of the richest – individuals and corporations – are thriving. Billionaire fortunes returned to their pre-pandemic highs in just nine months, while recovery for the world’s poorest people could take over a decade.
The crisis has exposed our collective frailty and the inability of our deeply unequal economy to work for all. Yet it has also shown us the vital importance of government action to protect our health and livelihoods. Transformative policies that seemed unthinkable before the crisis have suddenly been shown to be possible. There can be no return to where we were before. Instead, citizens and governments must act on the urgency to create a more equal and sustainable world.
Inequality risks being supercharged, at a huge human cost:
- It took just nine months for the top 1,000 billionaires’ fortunes to return to their pre-pandemic highs but for the world’s poorest people recovery could take 14 times longer, more than a decade.
- The increase in the 10 richest billionaires’ wealth since the crisis began is more than enough to prevent anyone on Earth from falling into poverty because of the virus, and to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone.
- Globally, women are overrepresented in the sectors of the economy that are hardest hit by the pandemic. If women were represented at the same rate as men in those sectors, 112 million women would no longer be at high risk of losing their incomes or jobs.
- In Brazil, people of Afro-descent have been 40% more likely to die of COVID-19 than White people.
- If their death rate had been the same as White Brazilians’, then as of June 2020, over 9,200 Afro- descendants would have still been alive. In the US, Latinx and Black people are more likely to die of COVID-19 than White people. If their death rate had been the same as White people ’s, then as of December 2020, close to 22,000 Latinx and Black people would have still been alive.
- The World Bank has calculated that if countries act now to reduce inequality then poverty could return to pre-crisis levels in just three years, rather than in over a decade.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ The Inequality Virus | Oxfam International
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