COVID-19 crisis has brought many flaws in our system and society at the center stage. The current economic and administrative system proved incapable of handling the economic and health crisis simultaneously. It also reminded us that even after the struggle of centuries for social development, we are far from achieving the objective. The COVID-19 has brought income inequality, gender inequality, and Racism again in the spotlight. Unequal income distribution, gender inequality, and Racism are prominent reasons of poverty across the globe. COVID-19 has most hardly hit the poor population across the world and pushed millions into poverty. These inequalities are taking a toll on the economic and social development of the countries. These social evils are existing for a long time in our society, but we have done only cosmetic changes to cover them up. Struggle to eliminate all these inequalities are ongoing, but it has to be a priority now.
The inequality in the distribution of income made the COVID-19 crisis more grave. Due to the unequal distribution of income, developed countries also suffered heavily in the COVID-19 crisis. Research by OCED, World Bank, and IMF shows that inequality of income distribution affects the GDP of a country. In the developed economies, unequal distribution of the income leads to the reduction of GDP in the short term (05 years or less) as well as in the long term. While the uneven distribution of income in developing countries improves the GDP marginally in the short term. Though, at a glance, it looks like unequal income distribution helps in attaining GDP growth for underdeveloped countries for a brief period. The rise in poverty is the repercussion of achieving high GDP growth by unequal income distribution. Poverty leads to other issues including malnutrition, unskilled workforce, and Low education levels. The research also indicated that countries where income inequality is decreasing, are growing at a faster rate.
The inequality in income negatively impacts the education opportunities of children of the poor, which affect skill development. A large under-educated population hampers the economic growth of the countries due to the lack of a skilled workforce. The study also revealed that students with less-educated and poor parents perform poorly in the studies in comparison to the student with educated parents. The lack of education affects the professional opportunities of the disadvantaged groups and hence, decreases social mobility and limiting the economic growth potential of the country. The unequal income also reduces the investment in the human capital by lower-income individuals due to the lack of opportunities.
In the US, the mortality rate due to COVID-19 is high in African-Americans. In states such as Kansas, Michigan, and Illinois mortality rate of African American are disproportionately high than their share in the population. The situation is not very different in the UK from the US, where ethnic groups (Black Carrebian, Indians, and other Blacks) are also most disproportionately affected by the COVID-19. Most of these affected African-American belong to the low-income bracket group. This data suggest the prevalence of economic inequality in western society based on race.
Due to the inequality, African-Americans get less chance of grabbing high paying job opportunities. They have to conform themselves with low paying jobs. The situation is more or less the same for the people of Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi origin in the west. They face racial discrimination regularly. Their ability to add a few percentage points in the GDP of their respective country got restricted due to the lack of opportunities. Lack of opportunities means continuous poverty and fewer chances of socio-economic upliftment. All these ethnic groups of western society are most affected by COVID-19.
Gender inequality is also related to income inequality. Almost in all societies, women are paid less than men for the same work due to inherent biases towards men. During the current crisis, women are contributing more in controlling the pandemic than men, especially in the medical services. The participation of women in health and social services is about 70 % across the globe. The participation of women in health services made them more vulnerable to COVID-19. It is also noticed, during the previous health crises (Ebola and Zika) that cases of domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence against women rise during pandemics. and the same is likely to happen again. The gender inequality cause creates a sharp difference in the income of men and women, which also increases the financial crisis in the family, where a woman is responsible for earning. The elimination of the gender gap is mandatory for bringing income equity.
It is a fact and has empirically proved by the scientists that the poor always suffer more during the Financial crisis, War, or Pandemics. The inequality of income distribution, Racism, and gender inequality are adding poverty in the life of many by reducing job opportunities and low wages. Poverty strips people from attaining education and achieve their full potential.
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