The Impact of COVID-19 on the Eradication of Poverty: An Incorrect Diagnosis

  • Citation: Rammelt, Crelis F. “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Eradication of Poverty: An Incorrect Diagnosis.” Third World Quarterly 42, no. 2 (2021): 441–47.
    • Topics:
    • Global Development
    • Keywords:
    • COVID-19
    • poverty eradication
    • inclusive development
    • Sustainable Development Goals
    • International Poverty Line
    • extreme poverty
    • food availability

The COVID-19 pandemic is said to have reversed a decade of progress towards poverty alleviation. This opinion piece contends that this diagnosis is incomplete and possibly incorrect. It distracts us from understanding the ways in which the impacts of the pandemic are embedded in a longer trajectory of unjust economic development. Two problems are highlighted: a more reasonable international poverty line shows that extreme poverty is on the rise, and the alleged progress fails to account for relatively fast-rising food prices. COVID-19 is therefore not reversing any meaningful trend; it is merely aggravating the problem. Ignoring this critique, the inclusive growth and productive employment agendas persist in their aim to incorporate the poor in an economic system that – compelled by its own logic – (re)produces poverty, inequality and hunger and undermines welfare. Simply reinforcing these agendas in light of COVID-19 bypasses the question of the desirability and viability of the system in which the poor are supposed to be incorporated.