Pandemics and Inequality: Perceptions and Preferences for Redistribution

Author/Editor:

Vybhavi Balasundharam ; Era Dabla-Norris

Publication Date:

February 26, 2021

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

Summary:

This paper uses an individual-level survey conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer in mid-April for 11 advanced and emerging market economies to examine perceptions of government performance in managing the health and economic crisis, beliefs about the future, and attitudes about redistribution. We find that women, non-college educated, the unemployed, and those in non-teleworkable jobs systematically have less favorable perceptions of government responses. Personally experiencing illness or job loss caused by the pandemic can shape people’s beliefs about the future, heightening uncertainties about prolonged job losses, and the imminent threat from automation. Economic anxieties are amplified in countries that experienced an early surge in infections followed by successful containment, suggesting that negative beliefs can persist. Support for pro-equality redistributive policies varies, depending on personal experiences and views about the poor. However, we find strong willingness to provide social safety nets for vulnerable individuals and firms by those who have a more favorable perception of government responses, suggesting that effective government actions can promote support for redistributive policies.

Series:

Working Paper No. 2021/053

Frequency:

regular

English

Publication Date:

February 26, 2021

ISBN/ISSN:

9781513570723/1018-5941

Stock No:

WPIEA2021053

Format:

Paper

Pages:

43

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