In recent days, reports have been issued by several international organizations indicating a slower than expected economic recovery and deterioration of some factors, namely the increase in inflation and the fragility of global value chains. But because economics is a social science – it influences and is affected by the behavior of people and organizations – it is crucial to pay some attention to the effects of the pandemic on social well-being, or else we will neglect the fundamental stage of economic recovery: people. This comes from a report published by the OECD’s WISE Center two weeks ago on the evolution of well-being in the first 15 months of the pandemic. Some conclusions demonstrate the significant impact of the pandemic on the way we live, work and interact:
1. The excess mortality rate in OECD countries averaged 16%, resulting in a 7-month reduction in life expectancy in 2020.
2. Despite the mobilization of emergency financial resources, the number of working hours has decreased significantly, and one in three persons has reported greater economic hardship.
3. Teleworking helped protect people in higher-skilled and better-paid jobs, but it was not a viable option for most workers. Low-income workers were twice as likely to be out of work and about half as likely to work remotely.
4. The underutilization of the labor market reached 17% in 2020, and 13% of young people are not adherents (they neither work nor participate in education or vocational training activities), eroding all gains made since the 2008 financial crisis.
5. Nearly 25% of the population of OECD countries, during that 15-month period, showed signs of depression and anxiety. Feelings of loneliness and isolation increased significantly.
6- Containment measures, in addition to the effects of school closures, have exacerbated gender inequality in domestic work, as well as cases of domestic violence.
7. As the epidemic progressed, the level of people’s fatigue increased. In 2021, a third of people reported being too tired to do normal household tasks at the end of the workday.
8. The epidemic has disproportionately affected the well-being of women. They were at the forefront of the fight against the epidemic, and represented the vast majority of health and social support workers; increase their punishment by adding unpaid work at home; showed the highest levels of deterioration in mental health; They are more susceptible to infection with the Corona virus for long periods.
9. While young people are the most affected by job loss, the older population, in addition to being the most health-affected group, is most affected by the isolation imposed by the various periods of total confinement.
10. People’s trust in institutions has significantly decreased. In 2021, about 33% of people admitted to being disconnected from society and institutions and the majority of the population believed their country was more divided than it was before the pandemic.
11. As one in five European families struggle to pay their monthly bills and one in seven expect to lose their job in the next three months, new pressures on the cost of living are emerging linked to inflation, rising energy prices and housing costs.
These data demonstrate that the pandemic has caused harm that goes well beyond the economic and public health dimensions, and although social well-being is intrinsically linked to the economic status of countries, the response must be more comprehensive and structural than just an economic read. . The state, being unable and not having to do everything, cannot fail to fulfill its irrevocable obligations to save social welfare.
Director of Development Cooperation at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
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