Half of world’s population worse off due to the pandemic, survey finds

Poll of 300,000 people across 117 countries found one in two earn less due to pandemic

Nita Bhalla
Monday 03 May 2021 15:02 BST
<p>People in low-income countries were particularly affected  </p>

People in low-income countries were particularly affected

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One in two people worldwide saw their earnings drop due to the coronavirus, with people in low-income countries hit particularly hard by job losses or cuts to their working hours, new research shows.

US-based polling company Gallup, which surveyed 300,000 people across 117 countries, found that half of those with jobs earned less because of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This translated to 1.6 billion adults globally, it said.

“Worldwide, these percentages ranged from a high of 76 per cent in Thailand to a low of 10 per cent in Switzerland,” said researchers in a statement.

In Bolivia, Myanmar, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Honduras and Ecuador, more than 70 per cent of people polled said they took home less than before the global health crisis. In the United States, this figure dropped to 34 per cent.

The Covid-19 crisis has affected workers across the world – particularly women, who are over-represented in low-paid precarious sectors such as retail, tourism and food services.

International charity Oxfam said on Thursday that according to its own research, the pandemic had cost women around the world $800bn (£578bn) in lost income.

The Gallup poll found that more than half of those surveyed said they had temporarily stopped working at their job or business – translating to about 1.7 billion adults globally.

In 57 countries, including India, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Kenya, Bangladesh and El Salvador, more than 65 per cent of respondents said they had stopped working for a time.

Countries where people were least likely to say they had stopped working were predominantly developed, high-income countries.

Fewer than one in 10 of those who had jobs in Austria, Switzerland and Germany said they had stopped working temporarily. In the US, the figure was 39 per cent, research showed.

The poll also showed that one in three people surveyed had lost their job or business due to the pandemic – translating to just over 1 billion people globally.

These figures also varied across nations, with more than 60 per cent of respondents in lower-income countries such as the Philippines, Kenya and Zimbabwe having lost their jobs or businesses, compared to 3 per cent in Switzerland and 13 per cent in the United States.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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