UNDP-Bangladesh-COVID19

Olivier Bargain on poverty and COVID-19 in developing countries

WIDER Webinar Series

Professor Olivier Bargain will join the WIDER Webinar Series to discuss new research on poverty, work mobility and COVID-19 in developing countries.

Between a rock and a hard place: Poverty and COVID-19 in developing countries

In March 2020, shelter-in-place and social-distancing policies have been enforced or recommended all over the world to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, strict containment is hardly achievable in low-income countries, as large parts of population are forced to continue income-generating activities to escape extreme poverty or hunger.

To assess the trade-off between poverty and a higher risk of catching COVID-19, we use regional mobility to work and poverty rates across 241 regions of 9 countries from Latin America and Africa. With a difference-in-difference approach around the time of lockdown announcements, we measure the differential time variation in work mobility between high and low-poverty regions.

We find that the degree of work mobility reduction is significantly driven by the intensity of poverty. Consistently, human movements vary significantly more between poverty levels when it come to work rather than less vital activities. We also estimate how higher poverty rates translate into a faster spread of COVID-19 cases through the channel of work mobility.

The discussant for this webinar will be UNU-WIDER Research Associate Amina Ebrahim. She will share insights on South African experience with poverty and COVID-19.

UNU-WIDER Senior Research Fellow, Patricia Justino, will chair the session

About the speakers

Olivier Bargain is Professor of Economics at the University of Bordeaux and member of the 'Institut Universitaire de France'. He is also a Research Fellow at Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) and Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER). His research covers topics in public, labor and development economics. He has been associate editor of the Journal of Economic Inequality and co-editor of the book series Research in Labor Economics, as well as a member of the Council of Economic Advisors to the French Prime Minister.

Amina Ebrahim is a Research Associate at UNU-WIDER. She is pursuing her PhD in Economics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Currently She works on the Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) programme with a particular focus on the use of tax administrative data for research. Her recent research has focused on the evaluation of the South Africa’s youth wage subsidy policy. Her research interests include development economics, labour economics and taxation. Before joining UNU-WIDER, she spent six years teaching at Georgetown University in Qatar.

WIDER Webinar series

The WIDER Webinar Series provides a platform to discuss COVID-19 and its effect on development and impact on the Global South. The webinars feature speakers renowned for their work on development issues, presenting new research on the implications they foresee of COVID-19.

Recordings will also be available after the event here.