Economy & Politics

PodcastHow Corona is slowing the fight against poverty

Although the number of infections is lower in many poorer countries than in richer countries, the economic consequences of the corona pandemic hit them all the harder. The fight against poverty is therefore facing a catastrophe
Although the number of infections is lower in many poorer countries than in richer countries, the economic consequences of the corona pandemic hit them all the harderimago images / Xinhua

The corona pandemic is a major blow to the fight against poverty. For the first time in 20 years global poverty will rise. In its latest forecast, the World Bank estimates that 150 million people could plunge back into extreme poverty. “Right now it’s a disaster. Two things happen at the same time: The economy is paralyzed. And economic thinking is paralyzed in a way. And that is mutually reinforcing, ”says Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee in the new episode of the podcast“ The Zero Hour ”(, n-tv, Stern).

Many poor countries, if the numbers are to be believed, have fewer infections than wealthier countries. But: “The poor countries are in a weaker position than the rich countries,” says Esther Duflo, who, together with her husband Banerjee, won the Nobel Prize in Economics last year for their research against poverty. The countries are not in the “position to do what Europe and the US have done,” which have massively increased their government spending to support their people.

The rich countries were overwhelmed by their own problems

Esther Duflo

The poverty researchers therefore proposed a “Marshall Plan” for the poorest countries at the beginning of the crisis. It was mainly about protective equipment and financial aid. “Some countries only have two or three ventilators across the country,” says Duflo. The problem is not the money. Duflo describes the support as financially “easily manageable” for rich countries. Only: “The rich countries were completely absorbed by their own problems,” she says.

But the scientists also say that there is “no silver bullet” in the fight against poverty. You have to know the problem well before you fight it. The same applies to the fight against the pandemic. People would “love to wave a magic wand and go back to 2019,” says Duflo. So they waited for a vaccine. It should be noted that there are already many small improvements in the handling and treatment of the disease.

The poverty researchers can also get something positive out of the Corona crisis. “I really hope this makes it clear to us humans that we are leading a life together on a very fragile planet,” says Banerjee. “The human psyche suffers from cognitive distortions when it comes to the future. As long as things work, you cannot imagine that one day they will no longer work. The crisis made people aware that […] a crisis that is predicted by scientists will also materialize, “says Duflo, adding,” I think that could really change the attention people pay to warnings about climate change. “

Hear in the new episode of “The Zero Hour”

  • What the corona crisis means for the poorest countries in the world
  • Why there are no simple solutions, neither in the fight against poverty nor against the corona pandemic
  • What can be learned from the crisis for the future

All episodes directly at Audio Now, Apple or Spotify or via Google.

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