A new Oxfam report has stated that between 200 to 500 people lived on less than $5.50 per day in 2020.

The report titled ‘The Inequality Virus’ will be released Monday at the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.

The report also stated that income of the poorest people globally further fell due to the pandemic. The covid-19 pandemic that swept across countries worldwide led to the shutdown of economic activities.

And that more than two-thirds of the global people that have been forced into poverty will be in South Asia and in East Asia and the Pacific. It has been estimated that 40 million people there stand to lose their jobs while 52 million more may likely become poor.

“What the virus has laid bare is the brutal precocity of the livelihoods of most of humanity. In normal times, the majority of people scrape by on incomes only just above the poverty line. Globally, 56% of the population lives on between $2 and $10 a day. In low- and middle-income countries, over half of workers are in working poverty. They work without labour protections or access to unemployment benefits or support. This means that they rapidly face hunger when their income disappears.

“The majority of those forced into poverty are informal workers. They are excluded from social protection, social support programmes and access to credit. Often in times of crisis they must sell assets like bicycles or livestock at giveaway prices, leaving them far less able to recover and creating a poverty trap that could persist for decades. This poverty trap, which is not felt by those at the top of the economy, means that even if growth returns rapidly, unless concrete action is taken we are likely to see poorer groups recover more slowly, driving a big increase in inequality. This will disproportionately affect women, youth, children, Indigenous Peoples, and migrant workers, as they are more likely to work in the informal sector,” the report revealed.

A statement by Oxfam to commemoration the WEF meeting said the report shows that COVID-19 has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this is happening since the beginning of this century.

The international NGO noted that rising inequality means it could take at least 14 times longer for the number of people living in poverty to return to pre-pandemic levels than it took for the fortunes of the top 1,000 billionaires to bounce back.

“A new global survey of 295 economists from 79 countries, commissioned by Oxfam, reveals that 87% of respondents, including Jeffrey Sachs, Jayati Ghosh and Gabriel Zucman, expect an ‘increase’ or a ‘major increase’ in income inequality in their country as a result of the pandemic.

The report shows how the rigged economic system enabled super-rich elite to amass wealth in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression while billions of people struggling to make ends meet. It reveals how the pandemic is deepening long-standing economic, racial and gender divides.

“The world’s ten richest men have seen their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the pandemic began more than enough to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone and to ensure no one is pushed into poverty by the pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic has ushered in the worst job crisis in over 90 years with hundreds of millions of people now underemployed or out of work.

“Women are hardest hit, yet again. Globally, women are overrepresented in the low-paid precarious professions that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. If women were represented at the same rate as men in these sectors, 112 million women would no longer be at high risk of losing their incomes or jobs. Women also make up roughly 70 percent of the global health and social care workforce − essential but often poorly paid jobs that put them at greater risk from COVID-19.

“Afro-descendants in Brazil are 40 percent more likely to die of COVID-19 than White people, while nearly 22,000 Black and Hispanic people in the United States would still be alive if they experienced the same COVID-19 mortality rates as their White counterparts. Infection and mortality rates are higher in poorer areas of countries such as France, India, and Spain while England’s poorest regions experience mortality rates double that of the richest areas.

“A temporary tax on excess profits made by the 32 global corporations that have gained the most during the pandemic could have raised $104 billion in 2020. This is enough to provide unemployment benefits for all workers and financial support for all children and elderly people in low- and middle-income countries,” the report states.


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