10.10.2020 Five Ways Coronavirus Is Deepening Global Inequality.
Before coronavirus, inequality was already increasing in many parts of the developing world. But the pandemic is going to greatly heighten existing economic and social inequalities. Here are five of the main ways inequality is heightening around the world.
Coronavirus has brought to wider consciousness inequalities in areas from healthcare to technology.
These inequalities are felt along various lines, from ethnicity to income.
Minority groups and people with disabilities face multiple barriers in access to essential services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown socio-economic inequalities into sharp relief. From access to healthcare and green spaces, to work and education, here are five areas of society where coronavirus has shown up real disparities.
1. Access to green spaces Studies have shown the benefit of green spaces for our mental and physical health. And, with millions in various forms of lockdown, unequal access to these spaces has become a hot topic. Recent research in South Africa has shown that 'white' neighbourhoods are 700m closer to public parks and have 12% more tree cover than areas with predominantly black residents. Meanwhile, a 2019 study in Germany highlighted inequalities in access to urban green spaces in relation to income, age, education and numbers of children in households.
2. Health access and outcomes The pandemic has highlighted inequalities in access to healthcare and health outcomes for different groups. Research in Europe has shown that, even in comparatively well-developed healthcare systems, inequality in access to health services persists. A 2019 report by the European Commission (PDF) says: "the lowest income quintiles are among the most disadvantaged groups in terms of effective access to healthcare". The report highlights issues along the lines of gender, race and residence status, with women and migrants both facing particular difficulties.
3. The digital divide Millions of workers and school children have been sent home, forced to work remotely by lockdowns and social distancing rules. But, this has highlighted gaps in access to technology and the internet. For example, some 50% of people (that's more than 600 million individuals) in India don't have access to the internet. And in many African countries the percentage is much higher. For these millions of people, remote working or education is little more than a fantasy. In India classes have been delivered by loud speaker in some rural areas. 4. Jobs in a virtual world There's a digital divide in play for adults too - both between countries and within them. Data suggests that the share of people who work from home is closely linked to internet penetration. And, those with poor internet connections at home, even in countries with high levels of internet access, will find it hard to cope in a new virtual, video-conferencing world. But, there are other inequalities at play as well. Higher-educated and -skilled workers are more likely to work in occupations where remote working is a possibility, according to research in the Netherlands. As a result, lower-skilled workers are more prone to job losses or reduction in hours.
5. Accessibility and disability Many people with disabilities have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic. Research in the UK has shown that two-thirds of people with visual impairments feel they've become less independent since the start of lockdown. And, also in the UK, more than two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths have been people with a disability. The WHO has also warned of the risks those with disabilities face during the pandemic, including an increased risk of developing severe disease. Social distancing can also be hard for these groups because of the need for additional care and support. Disruptions to essential services might also put people at risk. Credit: UPLINK
Poverty deprives people of adequate education, health care and of life's most basic necessities- safe living conditions (including clean air and clean drinking water) and an adequate food supply. The developed (industrialized) countries today account for roughly 20 percent of the world's population but control about 80 percent of the world's wealth.
Poverty and pollution seem to operate in a vicious cycle that, so far, has been hard to break. Even in the developed nations, the gap between the rich and the poor is evident in their respective social and environmental conditions.