Coronavirus May Worsen Another World Problem

How the disease is spreading calls attention to income inequality
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2020 11:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Here's a coronavirus concern you may not have considered: The pandemic is hitting low-income people the hardest and exacerbating inequality around the world, the New York Times reports. Reasons are complex, but studies show that people below the poverty line are about 10% more likely to have chronic health conditions that make the coronavirus much deadlier (perhaps by a factor of 10). What's more, workers are being laid off and might not have access to proper health care. "Who cares about the workers' health, while the rich run away," says a factory worker in Italy. "But then poor people, who need to bring bread home, go out and take risks." Experts say this could drive deaths of despair, racial conflict, and right-wing populism. For more numbers-driven reports on the coronavirus:

  • Italy: With 2,000 deaths so far, Italy makes a strong case for social distancing. But why was it hit so hard? Wired reports on a new paper in Demographic Science that offers two possible reasons: Italy has the world's second-oldest population, and young people often mix more with the elderly, like parents or grandparents. Many young Italians live with older family in rural areas, commute to the cities, and return home, which might exacerbate the pandemic.

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