Limit the widening of inequality, an issue of vital importance in the world after the COVID-19

Limiter le creusement des inégalités, enjeu vital du monde après la COVID-19

The crisis of the COVID-19 widening inequalities already important around the world and in developed countries, alarmed the economists, the political and corporate leaders to meetings of Aix-en-Seine in Paris, for their reduction should be a major issue in the world-after.

“The outbreaks have a tendency to bring down the world to the side where he leans over already. It is a sort of accelerator and a revealer of weaknesses,” said the economist Pierre Dockes, professor emeritus at the university of Lyon 2, at this event which was held this weekend.

In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic, doctors and epidemiologists have found that the coronavirus that affected more significantly the victims of chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease), proportionally more present in the poor populations of developed countries.

And these are mostly people employed in occupations in low-skilled, who have had to continue to work to turn the food shops, the warehouses of the giants of e-commerce or health services.

“All these people who have continued to work despite the risks […] are the people of the lower classes, finally,” noted Mark Stabile, researcher at Insead, a specialist in inequality.

In developed countries, the austerity policies in the wake of the crisis of 2008 “have reduced the quality of public services, in the health sector, for example, and the support of the people in need, without a job”, making them more vulnerable today, he also noted.

“It is clear that there will be an increase in inequality” because of this crisis, has also warned the president of the european central Bank, Christine Lagarde.

The Nobel peace prize, egyptian, Mohamed el-Baradei, has pointed to “the number of poor people who […] die simply because they do not have access to the health system”, “because they can not ensure the distancing physics, because the places where they live are too dense, and [that]they must return to work to survive”, especially in the emerging countries.

Pierre Dockes, countries like India or Brazil could experience a sudden stop of the movement “catch-up” of the standard of living of their middle class compared to those in western countries.

Burden for the young people

But there is another inequality generated by the COVID-19 of which it will have to be wary of, is that between the generations, considered the Italian economist Elsa Fornero, former minister of Labour in his country between 2011 and 2013.

If “the older generations have paid the heaviest price in terms of human lives […] on the economic consequences, the containment measures — for example, with the closure of schools […] — have left children, teenagers, outside of the education system”, which “can have long-term consequences […] on their integration in the economy,” she pointed out.

Studies conducted after the crisis of 2008 has shown that the generations who experienced difficulty in entering the labour market during the crisis have never caught up with their delay in relation to the career.

For the experts, in addition to the economic stimulus to boost growth rebound, we need to imagine solutions to the widening of these inequalities.

Some economists, including Gabriel Zucman, advocate for an exceptional tax on the rich, on the model of the German experience after 1945.

Germany has chosen to impose levies on temporary and very progressive on big fortunes”, in contrast to France and the United Kingdom, which had preferred to let them slip away inflation to reduce debt, he explained.

For its part, the Italian Elsa Fornero estimates that the massive debt of the States to sustain the economic recovery “would create a burden for these young generations,” and will therefore also be used to “help young people invest in their human capital”.

The investments to combat climate change will also have to turn to the most disadvantaged, because “this is always the most vulnerable who will find it hard to stand the shock,” argued Kevin Sneader of the McKinsey firm.

For the leader of ING Bank France, Karien van Gennip, it is necessary to go beyond the economic domain and “renewing the social contract”: “This is the time to do it, this is what we need to do in times of crisis.”

Share Button