COVID-19’s Economic Impact around the World

20.08.2021

Коронавирус стал поистине глобальной проблемой, которая затронула все страны мира, изменив законы, привычки и тенденции. Последовавший за ним экономический кризис вместе с тем ударил по странам по-разному. Больше всего пострадали более бедные страны, в которых медленнее проходит процесс вакцинации, а медицинские учреждения не справляются с нагрузкой. Американский экономист Хуан Санчес провёл исследование, показывающее, насколько небогатым странам сложнее пройти этот кризис

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the world economy has been affected in many ways. Poorer countries have suffered the most, but, despite their greater resources, wealthier countries have faced their own challenges. This article looks at the impact of COVID-19 in different areas of the world.

First, I put 171 nations into three groups according to per capita income: low, middle and high income. Second, I examined health statistics to show how hard-hit by the virus these nations were. Then, by comparing economic forecasts the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made in October 2019 (pre-pandemic) for 2020 with their actual values, I obtained estimates for the pandemic’s impact on growth and key economic policy variables.

Low- and high-income groups each compose 25% of the world’s countries, and the middle-income group makes up 50%. Average income per capita in 2019 was more than five times larger in the middle-income group than in the low-income group. In the high-income countries, it was almost 20 times larger.

Health Outcomes and Policies

The first table shows that COVID-19 had a significant impact on all three groups. Average excess mortality, which indicates how much larger the number of deaths was relative to previous years, was more than 34% in low-income countries, almost 14% in middle-income countries and about 10% in high-income countries. And even though poorer countries were more affected by deaths, their COVID-19 testing was much more limited given their smaller resources.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, high-income countries did more than one test per person, while low-income countries did only one test per 27 people (or 0.037 per person). Given the significant differences in testing, it is not surprising that reported cases were much higher in wealthier countries. Finally, note that there were significant differences in the progress of vaccination. As of June 2021, nearly 20% of the population in the wealthiest countries was fully vaccinated compared to about 2% in the poorest countries.

Impact on GDP Growth

COVID-19-related lockdowns were very common during 2020-21, directly impacting economic activity. The figure below shows the impact on GDP. To isolate the impact of COVID-19 from previous trends, I plotted the difference between the actual GDP growth in 2020 and the IMF forecast made in October 2019.

The immediate consequence of closing many sectors of the economy was a significant decline in GDP growth, which was as large as 8.7 percentage points for the median middle-income countries. Wealthier countries suffered a bit less, with a median of 6.4 percentage points, mainly because they began to recover before the end of 2020. The impact of COVID-19 was smaller in poorer countries because many did not have the resources to implement strict lockdowns. However, even in this group of countries, median GDP growth was 5.2 percentage points lower than expected.

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