The Socio-economic Effects of Virus Mitigation Efforts

By March 27, 2020 Commentary

In recent years, lower-income workers and minorities have finally begun to see significant gains in employment and some substantial personal income growth.  These workers are also bearing the brunt of coronavirus mitigation measures.  They represent more than their share in the population of hotel workers, restaurant and bar workers, and other employees in impacted industries.  Job losses hit these workers hardest, as they have low, if any, savings and generally live paycheck to paycheck.  I have been astonished by many comments in various forums made by older people who generally have comfortable incomes and assured medical care, that they don’t feel any weighting should be given to the harm to workers from a lockdown.  It is obviously not all people in this group (full disclosure, I am quite old myself and in the high risk age group) but it is many, who apparently feel that limiting the the risk to them, which is greater than in the general population, is worth any mitigation measure, however great the cost.  So much for what is often referred to as social solidarity.  From one perspective, the extreme mitigation measures could be looked at as the protection of the lives of a comparatively small number of older, relatively financially secure people at enormous cost to millions of younger, often lower-income and minority workers.  Hardly seems fair and this disproportionate impact should itself be weighed in the determination of appropriate measures.

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