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Some people can't afford 'social distancing.' Is COVID-19 worsening social inequality? Updated: 2020-04-09 05:53:39 KST

We begin with a discussion on an issue making headlines.
Epidemics and economic crises affect everyone.
But the International Labour Organization says they have a much more devastating impact on society's most vulnerable living on the margins.
So far, countries across the world have been largely unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are worried that it is already worsening social inequality.
Today we connect with Dr. Mark Shanahan, Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Reading in the UK and Manuela Parrino, a journalist based in Brazil.

First of all, Dr. Shanahan, is it fair to say that a pandemic like COVID-19 has the heaviest impact on the lives of people facing difficult socio-economic circumstances? Is there even a higher risk of them contacting the virus?

Manuela Parrino: Latin American countries tend to have large disparities in income and access to quality social services. The richest 1 per cent in Brazil, or instance, hold nearly a third of the country's total income, while for the bottom 50 percent it's just 14 percent. How conspicuous is this gap in daily life and do you think it will widen over the course of the pandemic?

Mark Shahanan: I'd like to hear your opinion on this as well could COVID-19 exacerbate income inequality and living conditions for people and how could widespread inequality affect government measures against COVID-19 like social distancing as well as the speed of economic recovery?

Manuela Parrino: Most low income earners work in the informal economy as construction workers, domestic workers and street vendors. What challenges do these people face during this crisis?

Mark Shahanan: In the UK, the U.S., and here in South Korea as well, authorities are working to help the hardest-hit households with income support and by increasing unemployment benefits. What other structural changes could be helpful even beyond the pandemic in making sure people have a stable level of income and social protection?

Manuela Parrino: What kind of measures or initiatives do you want to see to protect the livelihoods of every day people and tackle inequality?

That's all we have time for today.
Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Mark Shanahan in Reading, and Manuela Parrino in Rio de Janeiro.

Reporter : osy@arirang.com
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