Photo credit unsplash/Timon Studler

Inequality and social infrastructure

The crisis will reinforce existing inequalities and bring forth new ones: between the elderly who could not go outside and the young who were kept inside by government decree; between professionals who could work from home and factory workers who could not; between furloughed formal workers and the self-employed who lost all income; between citizens in rich countries whose governments could borrow their way out of the crisis, and the those in poor countries which did not have the resources to fight the pandemic. Progressives will expect greater wealth redistribution, as we saw after the Great Depression and WWII, but high debt and collapsing government revenues will make that difficult. The crisis has also revealed the importance of social infrastructure, as networks of volunteers and communities have supported those in need. Collaborations have developed virtually and physically among the public, private, charitable and civic sectors. Exploring how we can strengthen our social infrastructure will be as important as fostering economic growth in building the post-COVID world.