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The unequal impact of the coronavirus pandemic: Evidence from seventeen developing countries

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  • Nicolas Bottan
  • Bridget Hoffmann
  • Diego Vera-Cossio

Abstract

The current coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented public health challenge that is having a devastating economic impact on households. Using a sample of 230,540 respondents to an online survey from 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the study shows that the economic impacts are large and unequal: 45 percent of respondents report that a household member has lost their job and, among households owning small businesses, 59 percent of respondents report that a household member has closed their business. Among households with the lowest income prior to the pandemic, 71 percent report that a household member lost their job and 61 percent report that a household member has closed their business. Declines in food security and health are among the disproportionate impacts. The findings provide evidence that the current public health crisis will exacerbate economic inequality and provides some of the first estimates of the impact of the pandemic on the labor market and well-being in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Bottan & Bridget Hoffmann & Diego Vera-Cossio, 2020. "The unequal impact of the coronavirus pandemic: Evidence from seventeen developing countries," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(10), pages 1-10, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0239797
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239797
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fetzer, Thiemo & Witte, Marc & Hensel, Lukas & Jachimowicz, Jon M. & Haushofer, Johannes & Ivchenko, Andriy & Caria, Stefano & Elena Reutskaja, & Roth, Christopher & Fiorin, Stefano & Gomez, Margarita, 2020. "Global Behaviors and Perceptions at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 472, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
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    Cited by:

    1. Nora Lustig & Valentina Martinez Pabon, 2020. "The Impact of COVID-19 Economic Shock on Inequality and Poverty in Mexico," Working Papers 2014, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    2. Nora Lustig & Valentina Martinez Pabon & Federico Sanz & Stephen D. Younger, 2020. "The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns and Expanded Social Assistance on Inequality, Poverty and Mobility in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico," Working Papers 2012, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Conchita D'Ambrosio & Anthony Lepinteur, 2020. "The Fall in Income Inequality during COVID-19 in Five European Countries," Working Papers 565, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    4. Francis de Véricourt, & Huseyin Gurkan, & Shouqiang Wang,, 2020. "Informing the public about a pandemic," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-20-03, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
    5. Nora Lustig & Guido Neidhöfer & Mariano Tommasi, 2020. "Short and Long-Run Distributional Impacts of COVID-19 in Latin America," Working Papers 2013, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    6. Nora Lustig & Valentina Martinez Pabon & Federico Sanz & Stephen D. Younger, 2020. "The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns and Expanded Social Assistance on Inequality, Poverty and Mobility in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico," Working Papers 558, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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