Spatial inequality through the prism of a pandemic: Covid-19 in South Africa

Type Working Paper - ACEIR Working Paper Series
Title Spatial inequality through the prism of a pandemic: Covid-19 in South Africa
Volume No. 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2020
Page numbers 1-41
URL​inequality through prism of pandemic-covid19 south-africa.pdf
While the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic made everyone feel very vulnerable, the pandemic has made manifest the significant gaps between individuals in terms of exposure and in terms of the capacities to cope with such a major shock. The onset of the pandemic has seen a very active and promising response from quantitative social scientists attempting to use available household and labour market surveys to assist in framing evidence-informed emergency and longer-run policy responses. This paper implements two basic profiling frameworks in the South African context using the 2018 General Household Survey and the 2016 Community Survey. The first proposes a set of indicators of a household’s readiness to cope with a lockdown and then aggregates these into an index of lockdown readiness. The second does the same for COVID vulnerability. The authors use these indicators and their aggregate indices to profile lockdown readiness and COVID vulnerability at the national, provincial and municipal levels as well providing an urban/rural breakdown. There are stark inequalities across space in lockdown readiness and in COVID vulnerability and, disturbingly, strong correlations between low readiness and high vulnerability. This has implications for budget allocations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as some of the government relief funding has been and will be apportioned according to municipal need.

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