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Pandemic of Inequality


  • Luiza Nassif-Pires
  • Laura de Lima Xavier
  • Thomas Masterson
  • Michalis Nikiforos
  • Fernando Rios-Avila


The costs of the COVID-19 pandemic--in terms of both the health risks and economic burdens--will be borne disproportionately by the most vulnerable segments of US society. In this public policy brief, Luiza Nassif-Pires, Laura de Lima Xavier, Thomas Masterson, Michalis Nikiforos, and Fernando Rios-Avila demonstrate that the COVID-19 crisis is likely to widen already-worrisome levels of income, racial, and gender inequality in the United States. Minority and low-income populations are more likely to develop severe infections that can lead to hospitalization and death due to COVID-19; they are also more likely to experience job losses and declines in their well-being. The authors argue that our policy response to the COVID-19 crisis must target these unequally shared burdens--and that a failure to mitigate the regressive impact of the crisis will not only be unjust, it will prolong the pandemic and undermine any ensuing economic recovery efforts. As the authors note, we are in danger of falling victim to a vicious cycle: the pandemic and economic lockdown will worsen inequality; and these inequalities exacerbate the spread of the virus, not to mention further weaken the structure of the US economy.

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  • Luiza Nassif-Pires & Laura de Lima Xavier & Thomas Masterson & Michalis Nikiforos & Fernando Rios-Avila, 2020. "Pandemic of Inequality," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_149, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:levppb:ppb_149

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ajit Zacharias & Thomas Masterson & Fernando Rios-Avila, 2018. "Stagnating Economic Well-Being and Unrelenting Inequality: Post-2000 Trends in the United States," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_146, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Temin, Peter, 2017. "The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262036169, September.
    3. Alexander, Diane & Currie, Janet, 2017. "Is it who you are or where you live? Residential segregation and racial gaps in childhood asthma," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 186-200.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alves, Carolina & Kvangraven, Ingrid Harvold, 2020. "Changing the Narrative: Economics After Covid-19," Review of Agrarian Studies, Foundation for Agrarian Studies, vol. 10(1), July.
    2. Luiza Nassif Pires & Laura Carvalho & Eduardo Rawet, 2020. "Multidimensional Inequality and COVID-19 in Brazil," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_153, Levy Economics Institute.
    3. Irina E. Kalabikhina, 2020. "Demographic and social issues of the pandemic," Population and Economics, ARPHA Platform, vol. 4(2), pages 103-122, May.

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