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      Who Lost Most Wages and Household Income during the COVID‐19 Pandemic in Poor Rural China?

      research-article
      1 , 2 , 3 ,
      China & World Economy
      John Wiley and Sons Inc.
      COVID‐19, household income, poverty, rural China, wage

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          Abstract

          China managed to eliminate all extreme poverty in rural areas in 2020. Poor households, however, may risk falling back into poverty due to the COVID‐19. This paper examines the impacts of the pandemic on wages and household incomes among different groups in poor areas of rural China. Using a unique dataset from five poverty‐stricken counties, we found that the pandemic has had large negative effects on wage income for migrant workers and workers in manufacturing, the private sector, and small enterprises. Compared with households relying on wage income, households relying on small businesses have suffered much more from the pandemic, whereas households depending on farming or transfer payments have been less affected. Although poor and ethnic minority households lost significant amounts of wage income due to the pandemic, they did not lose more household income than nonpoor and nonminority households. We conclude that support from the government has kept vulnerable households from suffering more than other households from the effects of COVID‐19. Our findings suggest that the government can play a strong role in alleviating the negative impacts of the COVID‐19.

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          Learning loss due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic

          School closures have been a common tool in the battle against COVID-19. Yet, their costs and benefits remain insufficiently known. We use a natural experiment that occurred as national examinations in The Netherlands took place before and after lockdown to evaluate the impact of school closures on students’ learning. The Netherlands is interesting as a “best-case” scenario, with a short lockdown, equitable school funding, and world-leading rates of broadband access. Despite favorable conditions, we find that students made little or no progress while learning from home. Learning loss was most pronounced among students from disadvantaged homes. Suspension of face-to-face instruction in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to concerns about consequences for students’ learning. So far, data to study this question have been limited. Here we evaluate the effect of school closures on primary school performance using exceptionally rich data from The Netherlands ( n ≈ 350,000). We use the fact that national examinations took place before and after lockdown and compare progress during this period to the same period in the 3 previous years. The Netherlands underwent only a relatively short lockdown (8 wk) and features an equitable system of school funding and the world’s highest rate of broadband access. Still, our results reveal a learning loss of about 3 percentile points or 0.08 standard deviations. The effect is equivalent to one-fifth of a school year, the same period that schools remained closed. Losses are up to 60% larger among students from less-educated homes, confirming worries about the uneven toll of the pandemic on children and families. Investigating mechanisms, we find that most of the effect reflects the cumulative impact of knowledge learned rather than transitory influences on the day of testing. Results remain robust when balancing on the estimated propensity of treatment and using maximum-entropy weights or with fixed-effects specifications that compare students within the same school and family. The findings imply that students made little or no progress while learning from home and suggest losses even larger in countries with weaker infrastructure or longer school closures.
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            Redefining vulnerability in the era of COVID-19

            The Lancet (2020)
            What does it mean to be vulnerable? Vulnerable groups of people are those that are disproportionally exposed to risk, but who is included in these groups can change dynamically. A person not considered vulnerable at the outset of a pandemic can become vulnerable depending on the policy response. The risks of sudden loss of income or access to social support have consequences that are difficult to estimate and constitute a challenge in identifying all those who might become vulnerable. Certainly, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable groups are not only elderly people, those with ill health and comorbidities, or homeless or underhoused people, but also people from a gradient of socioeconomic groups that might struggle to cope financially, mentally, or physically with the crisis. The strategies most recommended to control the spread of COVID-19—social distancing and frequent handwashing—are not easy for the millions of people who live in highly dense communities with precarious or insecure housing, and poor sanitation and access to clean water. Often people living in these settings also have malnutrition, non-communicable diseases, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In South Africa, 15 million people live in townships where the incidence of HIV is around 25%. These immunocompromised populations are at greater risk to Covid-19. Another concern in African countries is that the response to COVID-19 will come at the expense of treating other diseases. For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the response to Ebola resulted in the resurgence of measles. The effect of the policy response on children in the fight against COVID-19 is also a concern. On March 23, UNICEF reported that in Latin America and the Caribbean over 154 million children are temporarily out of school because of COVID-19. The impact of this policy is more far-reaching than just the loss of education—in this region, school food programmes benefit 85 million children, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization assessed that these programmes constitute one of the most reliable daily sources of food for around 10 million children. Questioning whether appropriate evidence exists to support the reduction of transmission through school closures, Richard Armitage and Laura Nellums considered the long-term risks of deepening social, economic, and health inequities for children in a letter published in The Lancet Global Health. A 2015 UN report analysing the socioeconomic effects of Ebola in Africa also highlighted the increased risks of pregnancy in young girls, school dropout, and child abuse. The most vulnerable children are part of families in which parents have informal jobs and are not able to work from home. This predicament is particularly concerning in countries like India, where over 80% of its workforce is employed in the informal sector and a third of people work as casual labourers. In socioeconomically fragile settings, a lockdown policy can exacerbate health inequalities and the consequences need careful consideration to avoid reinforcing the vicious cycle between poverty and ill health. Human Rights Watch has reported that the lockdown in India has disproportionately affected marginalised communities because of the loss of livelihood and lack of food, shelter, health, and other basic necessities. Under this unprecedented challenge, governments must be mindful that strategies to address the pandemic should not further marginalise or stigmatise affected communities. Vulnerable groups and health inequalities are also evident in developed countries. The USA is a stark reminder of the divide that exists in countries without a universal health-care system. For people who do not have private medical insurance, this pandemic might see them face the choice of devastating financial hardship or poor health outcomes, or both. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the USA, individuals with poorer health outcomes were those in the lowest socioeconomic groups. This same group of vulnerable people have now been caught in the middle of a major health emergency as a result of long-standing differences in affluence. While responding to COVID-19, policy makers should consider the risk of deepening health inequalities. If vulnerable groups are not properly identified, the consequences of this pandemic will be even more devastating. Although WHO guidance should be followed, a one-size-fits-all model will not be appropriate. Each country must continually assess which members of society are vulnerable to fairly support those at the highest risk. © 2020 Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images 2020 Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.
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              Falling living standards during the COVID-19 crisis: Quantitative evidence from nine developing countries

              Income, employment, and food security fell sharply across low- and middle-income countries during the COVID crisis.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                longwenjin@cau.edu.cn
                zengjx@cass.org.cn
                suntq@cass.org.cn
                Journal
                10.1111/(ISSN)1749-124X
                CWE
                China & World Economy
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                1671-2234
                1749-124X
                23 November 2021
                Nov-Dec 2021
                23 November 2021
                : 29
                : 6 , Special Issue: How China Responded to COVID‐19: Food, Agriculture, and Rural Areas ( doiID: 10.1111/cwe.v29.6 )
                : 95-116
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Assistant Professor, College of Economics and Management China Agricultural University China
                [ 2 ] Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of Rural Development Chinese Academy of Social Sciences China
                [ 3 ] Research Fellow, Institute of Rural Development Chinese Academy of Social Sciences China
                Author notes
                [*] [* ]Tongquan Sun (corresponding author), Research Fellow, Institute of Rural Development, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China. Email: suntq@ 123456cass.org.cn .
                Article
                CWE12396
                10.1111/cwe.12396
                9011859
                6867f9cd-e036-4137-9d67-b8ab0309c6a7
                © 2021 Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

                This article is being made freely available through PubMed Central as part of the COVID-19 public health emergency response. It can be used for unrestricted research re-use and analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source, for the duration of the public health emergency.

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                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, References: 29, Pages: 22, Words: 1462
                Categories
                E24
                J31
                P25
                Original Article
                Original Articles
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                2.0
                November‐December 2021
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:6.1.4 mode:remove_FC converted:15.04.2022

                covid‐19,household income,poverty,rural china,wage
                covid‐19, household income, poverty, rural china, wage

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