COVID-19

Coronavirus news monitor

COVID-19

Coronavirus news monitor

30 November 2021
The COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria: What’s happening to welfare? New data call for expanded social protection in Africa’s most populous country

worldbank.org (16.11.2021) While health indicators and macroeconomic data are essential for addressing the fundamentals of the COVID-19 crisis, countervailing policies need detailed information on the mechanisms through which the pandemic affects human capital, livelihoods, and welfare. This is especially important in Nigeria because the pandemic threatens to compound the country’s high levels of poverty: even before COVID-19, around 4 in 10 Nigerians lived below the national poverty line, and multidimensional poverty was even more widespread. In Nigeria, this kind of detailed analysis is made possible by high-frequency data collected during the pandemic through the Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS). This nationally-representative survey is distinctive in capturing key socioeconomic information from households for 12 consecutive rounds between April 2020 and April 2021: few other developing countries with which the World Bank has worked on phone surveys have such extensive data. A new report – COVID-19 in Nigeria: Frontline Data and Pathways for Policy – uses the NLPS to examine how the COVID-19 crisis has been affecting the human capital, livelihoods, and welfare of Nigerian households.

22 November 2021
Social protection of non-standard workers and the self-employed during the pandemic

etui (2021) The Covid‑19 pandemic severely affected some categories of non-standard workers, and particularly the self‑employed. The emergency measures cushioned the potentially disastrous effect on their social circumstances, but undeniably highlighted even more the gaps in their access and entitlement to social protection benefits While the first report of this joint project of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and the European Social Observatory (OSE) mapped the measures taken in relation to unemployment benefits, sickness benefits and leave for non-standard workers and the self‑employed (Spasova et al. 2021), this edited volume comprises eight country case studies: Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Sweden.

12 November 2021
Social protection and informality in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic

plos.org (04.11.2021) Latin American governments swiftly implemented income assistance programs to sustain families’ livelihoods during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. This paper analyzes the potential coverage and generosity of these measures and assesses the suitability of current safety nets to deal with unexpected negative income shocks in 10 Latin American countries. The expansion of pre-existing programs (most notably conditional cash transfers and non-contributory pensions) during the COVID-19 crisis was generally insufficient to compensate for the inability to work among the poorest segments of the population. When COVID-19 ad hoc programs are analyzed, the coverage and replacement rates of regular labor income among households in the first quintile of the country’s labor income distribution increase substantially. Yet, these programs present substantial coverage challenges among families composed of fundamentally informal workers who are non-poor, but are at a high risk of poverty. These results highlight the limitations of the fragmented nature of social protection systems in the region.

29 October 2021
Employment in Crisis : The Path to Better Jobs in a Post-COVID-19 Latin America

worldbank.org (17.06.2021) A region known for its volatility, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has suffered severe economic and social setbacks from crises—including the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises have taken their toll on careers, wage growth, and productivity. Employment in Crisis: The Path to Better Jobs in a Post-COVID-19 Latin America provides new evidence on the effects of crises on the region’s workers and firms and suggests several policy responses that can bolster long-term and inclusive economic growth. This report has three key findings. First, crises lead to persistent employment losses and accelerate structural changes away from the formal sector. This change occurs more through reductions in the creation of formal jobs than through job destruction. Second, some workers recover from crises, while others are permanently scarred by them. Low-skilled workers can suffer up to a decade of lower earnings caused by crises, while high-skilled workers rebound fast, exacerbating the LAC region’s high level of inequality. Formal workers suffer smaller employment and wage losses in localities with higher rates of informality. And the reduced job flows caused by crises decrease welfare, but workers in localities with more job opportunities, whether formal or informal, bounce back better. Third, crises’ cleansing effects can increase efficiency and productivity, but these effects are dampened by the LAC region’s less competitive market structure. Rather than becoming more agile and productive during economic downturns, protected sectors and firms gain market share and crowd out others, trapping valuable resources. This report proposes a three-pronged mix of policies to improve the LAC region’s responses to crises: • Create a more stable macroeconomic environment to smooth the impacts of crises, including automatic stabilizers such as unemployment insurance and short-term compensation programs; • Increase the capacity of social protection and labor programs to respond to crises and coalesce these programs into systems that complement income support with reemployment assistance and reskilling opportunities; and • Tackle structural issues, including the lack of product market competition and the spatial dimension behind poor labor market adjustment—a “good jobs and good firms” agenda.

28 October 2021
COVID-19 benefits set to expire this week in Canada

CTV News (17.10.2021)On Oct. 23 – the last day of Small Business Week – the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are set to expire. Both programs have been extended several times since being implemented in 2020.

As for individual benefits, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) are also set to terminate on Saturday. These programs, too, can be extended into November by the government.

26 October 2021
Philippines: World Bank exec praises PhilSys role in PH digital transformation

Philippine News Agency (17.10.2021) The implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) has resulted in milestones for the country's social protection and digital transformation, according to a World Bank official. 

He said success in utilizing PhilSys for social protection has a "significant demonstration effect" in accelerating digital transformation among government agencies and even the private sector.

Diop noted that "countries that already had good and inclusive digital infrastructure including internet connectivity, digital identification, digital payments, and integrated data ecosystems were better equipped to quickly adapt their social protection programs to meet urgent needs".

In the Philippines, he said the delivery of social assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic presents a challenge.

"Fortunately, the country is moving to address digital infrastructure gaps, including through the development of the Philippine Identification System. PhilSys is one of the most complex but also game-changing projects undertaken in the country," he added.

22 October 2021
COVID-19 in long-term care: Impact, policy responses and challenges

OECD (21.10.2021) The COVID-19 crisis has hit the long-term care (LTC) sector particularly hard, with large numbers of people dependent on care and particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 have fallen ill, and a disproportionate rate of LTC workers both exposed to, and infected by, COVID-19. The analysis presented in this report describes the effects of COVID-19 on LTC in OECD countries, mainly showing infection rates and mortality of LTC recipients. It takes stock of the wide range of policy responses that countries have implemented, detailing the changes over time on testing strategies, reduction of interactions and isolation measures, digitalisation of services, and workforce. The report also assesses emergency preparedness in the sector, as well as workforce, organisational and coordination challenges. Finally, the report analyses how policy responses affected care continuity and the well-being of residents while also outlining the effectiveness of vaccination. 

19 October 2021
Thailand approves $2.8bln more economic support measures

ZAWYA  (18.10.2021) Thailand's cabinet on Tuesday approved a further 92 billion baht ($2.76 billion) of relief measures to help boost its flagging economy as the Southeast Asian country deals with its biggest and most prolonged coronavirus outbreak.  Thailand earlier this year approved a further 500 billion baht borrowing plan to mitigate the impact of the epidemic. Of the approved support, the government will offer 42 billion baht of cash transfers under an existing co-payment scheme between November and December, spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana told a news conference. There will be 3 billion baht in e-vouchers for spenders under an existing scheme, about 8.1 billion baht for holders of state welfare cards and about 1.38 billion baht for those with special needs, he said. "Every measure is to stimulate a recovering economy and to help people and business operators," Thanakorn said. The cabinet also approved 37.5 billion baht of stimulus to help smaller firms retain 4.2 million jobs, he said. That is less than an earlier estimated 45.4 billion baht for 5.04 million workers, according to the state planning agency.

19 October 2021
South Africa: A New Social Assistance Assessment Aims to Help Strengthen Policies and Programs for the Poor

worldbank.org (07.10.2021) The World Bank, in collaboration with the Government of South Africa, released a new report assessing the country’s social assistance programs and systems. In an environment of high unemployment, persistent poverty, weak economic growth and shrinking fiscal resources that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Social Assistance Programs and Systems Review: South Africa report underscores the critical role of the grant and social assistance system in mitigating poverty. This report also provides policy considerations that could help move South Africa’s system of social transfers towards sustainable and productive investments in its people.

14 October 2021
Tax and fiscal policies after the COVID-19 crisis

oecd.org (14.10.2021) The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant deterioration in public finances, adding to pre-existing strains from long-term structural challenges including population ageing, climate change, rising inequality, digitalisation and automation. This report, originally prepared for G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors at the request of the Italian G20 Presidency, considers the challenges and opportunities of developing public fiscal policy strategies as countries seek to “build back better”. The report focuses in particular on how tax policy can be designed comprehensively so that fiscal systems can deliver a balance of equity, growth and sustainability, highlighting some of the key considerations that policymakers should take into account to ensure optimal tax policy design and the successful implementation of tax reform.

14 October 2021
Nigeria: Assessing Govt's Protective Efforts in Covid-19 Era

allafrica.com (14.10.2021) Social protection is a right for the federal government and not a token or favour. The last 18 months have been difficult for families and communities across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vision of equality and inclusion as explained in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has become blurred. Social protection programme coverage in Nigeria has remained low during the COVID-19 crisis. Between mid-March and July 2020, about 4.9 per cent of households received assistance in the form of cash from institutions including the government and about 3.6 per cent in kind assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed the weakness of the current global economic model and social protection system. More than four billion persons, about 53 per cent of the global population, are completely unprotected against economic shocks. With about 17.4 per cent social protection cover, Africa has the least social protection coverage for its citizens leaving most Africans vulnerable to economic shocks, poverty, hunger, huge sickness burden, illiteracy, and destitution.

8 October 2021
The Implications of COVID-19 for Welfare and Vulnerability in Nepal

worldbank.org (06.10.2021) In Nepal, the lockdowns that were adopted to mitigate the public health impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) were accompanied by a significant contraction in economic activity. These in turn suggest a negative outlook for poverty and welfare, particularly in the face pre-existing macro and micro vulnerabilities. Even prior to Coronavirus (COVID-19), with consistently high rates of vulnerability and exposure to a range of shocks, the risks to falling back into poverty remained high in Nepal. In Nepal, high rates of vulnerability along with prolonged lockdowns suggest that there is an urgent need to understand the immediate and still evolving impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on welfare. This paper uses data from two phone surveys implemented by the World Bank in late 2020 to early 2021 to fill this critical need for evidence to track the overall impacts of the crisis in the labor market, and on key sub-groups that are relevant to welfare in Nepal.

7 October 2021
G2P Payment Arrangements in Egypt and COVID-19

worldbank.org (23.06.2021) The report discusses the "Takaful and Karama" cash transfer program (TKP) in Egypt. Launched in 2015, it is a flagship social assistance initiative of the government. Takaful is a family income support program. It is a conditional cash transfers programme targeting poverty reduction and improved human development outcomes in health and education. Karama is an unconditional income support and social inclusion sub programme. The intended beneficiaries are the poor elderly (above age 65) and persons with severe disability.

30 September 2021
Global social protection platform to fill knowledge gap

tribune.com.pk (19.09.2021) Taking a lead on universal social protection, the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations convened the first meeting of the Group of Friends on Social Protection along with Turkey, Nigeria and Costa Rica.

28 September 2021
US: The new child tax credit does more than just cut poverty

brookings.edu (24.09.2021) With COVID-19’s disruptions in employment, child care, and education, it is unsurprising that child poverty substantially increased in 2020—roughly 1.2 million more children were living in poverty in 2020 when compared to 2019 (an increase from 15.7% to 17.5%). As child poverty is unequally distributed in America, so too were its increases—poverty rates grew the most among Latino children (4.2 percentage points), Black children (2.8 percentage points), and children from female-headed families (4.1 percentage points), while they remained flat for white and Asian children.

23 September 2021
Case study: Data responsibility and digital remote targeting during COVID-19

calpnetwork.org (10.03. 2021) Challenges due to the pandemic have led to all kinds of innovations and adaptations focused on remote targeting, enrolment, verification and delivery. While required for the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, these new approaches might be useful in future responses that require remote targeting and delivery, such as in fragile contexts.
This case study explores digital remote targeting approaches that GiveDirectly is using for cash assistance, and ways that the organization is addressing data responsibility. Early results indicate that the approach they have taken has been effective at quickly delivering COVID-19-related cash transfers to a large number of individuals living in extreme poverty in record time. 

21 September 2021
Europe: Social protection and inclusion policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis

European Commission (07.09.2021) This ESPN report examines the (sub)national social protection and inclusion policy measures that European countries put in place to help address the social and financial distress created by the pandemic and by lockdown policies. It covers the 27 EU Member States, the 7 candidate and potential candidate countries, and the UK. The report provides a description and assessment of the main measures implemented, an initial estimate of the overall expenditure on crisis measures as well as an analysis of the demographic, economic and social impact of the pandemic in the 35 countries covered. It reveals an overall rapid reaction through the introduction of (mostly) temporary measures - primarily relaxing eligibility conditions, increasing benefit levels and creating new ad hoc social and job protection schemes.

17 September 2021
Cash and the city: Digital COVID-19 social response in Kinshasa

brookings.edu (08.09.2021)  As COVID-19 spread across the world, governments responded with an unprecedented increase in social assistance measures. Policymakers had to shift their focus to urban areas, particularly slums, whose residents were hit the hardest by the pandemic and its economic impact. Social safety nets, traditionally targeting chronic poverty in rural areas, had to be reinvented overnight: The new objective was to prevent informal workers affected by lockdowns from falling back into poverty. Exciting innovations in the design and delivery of social transfers followed, with emerging lessons informing us, as the world continues battling the pandemic.

16 September 2021
COVID-19 and the impact of cash transfers on health care use in Togo

bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com (27.08.2021) Cash transfer program during pandemics provide a social protection mechanism to improve the health of the most vulnerable households. This article analysis the impact of cash transfers on household demand for health care during Covid-19.

14 September 2021
How Can Basic Income and Health Care Prevent the Next Crisis?

globalcitizen.org (10.09.2021) As countries seek to contain COVID-19, a return to the way things were is not an option, according to Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. Instead, countries must guarantee basic living conditions. “We see that when social protection remains weak, the poorest pay the price,” De Schutter said. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown, an estimated 115 million additional people may have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020, and 35 million more may follow this year. “This could have been avoided with strong social protection mechanisms, which shows that if governments maintain low levels of social support, societies are not ready to cushion shocks,” he added. “They actually run into a stone wall.”  De Schutter recently spoke to Global Citizen about the global effort to achieve a “social protection floor,” what people get wrong about welfare, and how eliminating poverty helps all of us.