The role of automatic stabilizers and emergency tax–beneft policies during the COVID‑19 pandemic
Evidence from Ecuador
THIS ARTICLE IS ON EARLY VIEW | By combining household survey data before and during the COVID-19 pandemic with detailed tax-benefit simulations, this paper quantifies the distributional effects of COVID-19 in Ecuador and the role of tax-benefit policies in mitigating the immediate impact of the economic shocks.
Our results show a dramatic increase in income poverty and inequality between December 2019 and June 2020, the period when the economy was hit the hardest. The national poverty headcount increases from 25.7 to 58.2%, the extreme poverty headcount from 9.2 to 38.6%, and the Gini coefficient from 0.461 to 0.592.
On average, household disposable income drops by 41%. The new Family Protection Grant provides income protection for the poorest income decile. However, overall tax-benefit policies do little to mitigate the losses in household incomes due to the pandemic. Informal workers, in particular, are left unprotected due to the lack of income support in the event of unemployment.