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Poverty in the time of COVID: the effect of social assistance

Parekh, Nidhi and Bandiera, Oriana (2020) Poverty in the time of COVID: the effect of social assistance. LSE Public Policy Review, 1 (2). ISSN 2633-4046

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Identification Number: 10.31389/lseppr.14


The global recession caused by COVID-19 will lead to the first increase in global poverty in decades. The extent of the increase in poverty depends on the availability and effectiveness of social assistance. In the benchmark scenario, that takes no account of social assistance, when ranking countries most affected by the pandemic’s resulting recession, the top half (most affected) countries make up 15% of the world population and 19% of the world’s poor. However, these figures change substantially when we adjust the ranking to incorporate, alongside the recessionary effects, dimensions of each country’s social assistance programmes. When we adjust the recession ranking to incorporate the generosity of social assistance in each country, the top half (most affected) will constitute 39% of the total population and 45% of the world’s poor. Individual countries’ expected poverty levels are also strongly affected by which dimension of social assistance is considered in the calculation. This highlights the important role that social assistance plays in mitigating the effects of such a sharp and unexpected negative economic shock for the world’s poorest people. Unfortunately, many countries do not provide social assistance that is sufficiently generous and inclusive of, or targeted at, their poorest quintile. Consequently, these vulnerable segments of their populations are likely to suffer severely as a result of the recession.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 CC-BY The Author
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2021 09:57
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2024 03:15

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