Publication: Death and Destitution: The Global Distribution of Welfare Losses from the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about massive declines in well-being around the world. This paper seeks to quantify and compare two important components of those losses—increased mortality and higher poverty—using years of human life as a common metric. The paper estimates that almost 20 million life-years were lost to COVID-19 by December 2020. Over the same period and by the most conservative definition, more than 120 million additional years were spent in poverty because of the pandemic. The mortality burden, whether estimated in lives or years of life lost, increases sharply with gross domestic product per capita. By contrast, the poverty burden declines with per capita national income when a constant absolute poverty line is used, or is uncorrelated with national income when a more relative approach is taken to poverty lines. In both cases, the poverty burden of the pandemic, relative to the mortality burden, is much higher for poor countries. The distribution of aggregate welfare losses—combining mortality and poverty and expressed in terms of life-years —depends on the choice of poverty line(s) and the relative weights placed on mortality and poverty. With a constant absolute poverty line and a relatively low welfare weight on mortality, poorer countries are found to bear a greater welfare loss from the pandemic. When poverty lines are set differently for poor, middle-income, and high-income countries and/or a greater welfare weight is placed on mortality, upper-middle-income and rich countries suffer the most.
“Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Sterck, Olivier; Mahler, Daniel; Decerf, Benoit. 2021. Death and Destitution : The Global Distribution of Welfare Losses from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Policy Brief: Malawi;No. 9673. © World Bank, Washington, DC. http://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/35634?show=full License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
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