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The Inequality Virus Report

Human Development

COVID-19 has been likened to an x-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built. It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: The lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; The fiction that unpaid care work is not work; The delusion that we live in a post-racist world; The myth that we are all in the same boat. While we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in super yachts, while others are clinging to the drifting debris.’ - Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

History will remember the COVID-19 pandemic for taking over two million lives worldwide. It will remember hundreds of millions being pushed into destitution and poverty. History will also likely remember the pandemic as the first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have all expressed deep concern that the pandemic will drive up inequality all over the world, with deeply harmful effects.

’The impact will be profound […] with increased inequality leading to economic and social upheaval: a lost generation in the 2020s whose after-effects will be felt for decades to come’. - Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF 

This view is supported by Oxfam’s survey of 295 economists from 79 countries.3 They included leading global economists such as Jayati Ghosh, Jeffrey Sachs and Gabriel Zucman. 87% of respondents expected that income inequality in their country was either going to increase or strongly increase as a result of the pandemic. This included economists from 77 of the 79 countries. Over half of all respondents also thought gender inequality would likely or very likely increase, and more than two thirds thought so of racial inequality. Two-thirds also felt that their government did not have a plan in place to combat inequality.

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