Epidemic, Economy, and Inequalities: Basic Relationships. Interview with Jérôme Sgard

COVID Global Inequalities. Copyright: shutterstockThe public debate on the current economic crisis and the pandemic has focused on rich countries. But how is this crisis truly “global”? What are the current inequalities with developing countries? Here is an overview with Jérôme Sgard, a specialist in the construction and regulation of markets.

COVID-19 has reminded us that there are great inequalities between rich countries and developing ones in terms of health facilities. What is the scale of this imbalance?

If you watch a TV report on the intensive care units in French hospitals, you quickly understand that this is a high-tech medicine that relies on equipment that you can guess is very expensive. In this respect, the gap with the poorest countries is huge, particularly with sub-Saharan Africa. Whether we compare the number of doctors and nurses per inhabitant, intensive care equipment, or respirators, the ratio is ten to one or even more. A day in intensive care in Paris costs more than 4,500 euros, whereas in sub-Saharan Africa, the health budget per capita is around 200 euros per year (in purchasing power parity). This suggests that if these countries were to suffer epidemic attacks comparable to the one we have experienced in Europe, the capacity to respond to them would a priori be very limited. And the primary factor here is obviously the wealth gap—mass poverty (...)