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Death and Destitution: The global distribution of welfare losses from the Covid-19 pandemic

Francisco Ferreira
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 8:30am to 9:50am
Winter 2021

Death and Destitution: The global distribution of welfare losses from the Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused massive wellbeing losses around the world. This paper seeks to quantify and compare two important sources of those welfare losses – higher mortality and increased poverty – using years of human life as a metric. Middle and high-income countries have suffered a greater burden from Covid-induced mortality than poorer countries. Although extreme poverty increases are larger in poorer countries, when poverty lines typical of each country-income category are used, the burden of additional poverty does not vary systematically with level of economic development. As a result, the welfare costs from higher poverty relative to mortality decline systematically with GDP per capita. Three groups of countries can be broadly identified: those where Covid deaths were the main source of welfare loss; those where additional destitution was more important than mortality in welfare terms; and a group where the two sources have similar importance.

About Francisco Ferreira

Francisco H. G. Ferreira is the Amartya Sen Professor of Inequality Studies and Director of the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics. He is also affiliated with the Department of Social Policy at LSE.

Francisco, also known as Chico, is an economist working on the measurement, causes and consequences of inequality and poverty, with an emphasis on developing countries in general and Latin America in particular. Some of his recent work has focused on the definition and measurement of inequality of opportunity. His work has been published widely, including in the Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Review of Income and Wealth, Journal of Agricultural Economics, Journal of Economic Inequality, the World Bank Economic Review and World Development. His research has been awarded prizes including the Richard Stone Prize in Applied Econometrics and the Kendrick Prize from the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth

Francisco is also a Research Fellow at IZA (Bonn) and an Affiliated Scholar with the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the City University of New York. He currently serves as Vice-President of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association and has served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Economic Inequality (2012-2014), and on other editorial boards. Prior to returning to the LSE, he had a long career at the World Bank, mostly in the Research Department. Chico has also previously taught at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and at the Paris School of Economics. He was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics.