Ms. Elif C Arbatli Saxegaard, Mattia Coppo, Nasser Khalil, Shinya Kotera, and Ms. Filiz D Unsal
Using microdata from nationally representative household and labor force surveys, we study the impact and drivers of poverty and inequality in India during the pandemic. We have three main findings. First, India has made significant progress in reducing poverty in recent decades, but the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have temporarily increased poverty and inequality. Second, education and employment status seem to be the main factors associated with poverty and income/consumption changes. Finally, the government’s expansion of food subsidies has likely played a significant role in mitigating the increase in poverty during the pandemic.
Mr. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, Iglika Vassileva, and Tingyun Chen
Child poverty increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 alone, the number of children suffering from poverty in the EU increased by 19 percent, or close to 1 million. Left unaddressed, this would not only affect individuals’ life prospects and well-being but also have long-term economic implications. This paper argues that, to limit this potential scarring effect of the pandemic, policies should be deployed to reduce rapidly the number of children affected by poverty and mitigate the long-term impact of poverty. Reducing the number of children affected by poverty can be achieved by (i) labor policies and reforms that increase parental work and the labor income of poor parents and (ii) fiscal spending on family and children that can have a powerful and immediate impact. These policies need to be complemented by public investment in education and childcare, health, and housing to mitigate the long-term impact of child poverty.
Surjit Bhalla, Karan Bhasin, and Mr. Arvind Virmani
The paper presents estimates of poverty [extreme poverty PPP$1.9 and PPP$3.2] and consumption inequality in India for each of the years 2004-5 through the pandemic year 2020-21. These estimates include, for the first time, the effect of in-kind food subsides on poverty and inequality. Extreme poverty was as low as 0.8 percent in the pre-pandemic year 2019, and food transfers were instrumental in ensuring that it remained at that low level in pandemic year 2020. Post-food subsidy inequality at .294 is now very close to its lowest level 0.284 observed in 1993/94.
Katharina Bergant, Miss Anke Weber, and Andrea Medici
Using micro-data from household expenditure surveys, we document the evolution of consumption poverty in the United States over the last four decades. Employing a price index that appears appropriate for low income households, we show that poverty has not declined materially since the 1980s and even increased for the young. We then analyze which social and economic factors help explain the extent of poverty in the U.S. using probit, tobit, and machine learning techniques. Our results are threefold. First, we identify the poor as more likely to be minorities, without a college education, never married, and living in the Midwest. Second, the importance of some factors, such as race and ethnicity, for determining poverty has declined over the last decades but they remain significant. Third, we find that social and economic factors can only partially capture the likelihood of being poor, pointing to the possibility that random factors (“bad luck”) could play a significant role.
Ms. Valerie Cerra, Mr. Ruy Lama, and Norman Loayza
Is there a tradeoff between raising growth and reducing inequality and poverty? This paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the complex links between growth, inequality, and poverty, with causation going in both directions. The evidence suggests that growth can be effective in reducing poverty, but its impact on inequality is ambiguous and depends on the underlying sources of growth. The impact of poverty and inequality on growth is likewise ambiguous, as several channels mediate the relationship. But most plausible mechanisms suggest that poverty and inequality reduce growth, at least in the long run. Policies play a role in shaping these relationships and those designed to improve equality of opportunity can simultaneously improve inclusiveness and growth.
Absolute poverty has dropped markedly in Bulgaria but income inequality has increased substantially in the aftermath of the GFC. This increase is due to a rise in market income inequality that was compounded by a reduction in fiscal redistribution. The redistributive role of direct taxation has declined with the introduction of a flat tax and social spending is relatively low and decreasing (as a share of GDP), is concentrated on a few social risks, and experienced a decline in its redistributive efficiency. The COVID-19 crisis is likely to deepen income inequality, increasing the room for redistributive policies.