Received 27.04.2022. Revised 24.05.2022. Accepted 30.05.2022.
COVID-19, inequality, Gini coefficient, vulnerable population, vulnerability index, distance work, excess mortality, Vaccination
Abstract. The COVID-19 pandemic that engulfed the world in early 2020 did not make an exception for anyone. However, the degree of its impact on countries and social groups varies significantly. This article discusses several factors that can shape these differences, focusing specifically on the correlation between the excess mortality during 2020–2021 and various dimensions of social vulnerability, specifically the ones that are caused by unprotected or low pay employment, self-employment, and higher exposure to work-related social contacts. In order to measure these factors, this study relies on the analysis of the Gini coefficient and some other indices that reflect the specifics of labour markets and social vulnerabilities. The assessment is based on data provided by Eurofound, Eurobarometer, the World Bank and OECD Statistics. The correlation between inequality/vulnerability and excess mortality rates can be explained by higher exposure of vulnerable social groups to the infection and their lower access to high quality healthcare. The econometric analysis supports the hypothesis that the cross-country variation in excess mortality rates during the 2020–2021 COVID-19 pandemics can be partially explained by socioeconomic characteristics of countries in the sample. Vulnerable groups are not only more exposed to health-related risks due to the pandemics but are also less likely to be vaccinated. Larger shares of the vulnerable groups and lower vaccination rates are associated with higher excess mortality rates conditional upon country characteristics such as GDP per capita, the share of university graduates and healthcare expenditures, as well as age structure. This relationship holds for different variables used, different country samples and data sets.
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