Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Covid-19 and inequality

reduced levels of education are going to drastically impact the general skill level of the future workforce, as they likely will end up less educated on average than older generations. This in turn reduces the efficiency of labour which shifts in long-run aggregate supply and could potentially lead to future structural unemployment. An Ofsted report on the impact that the pandemic has had on schooling in the UK stated that, children whose parents were unable to work more flexibly, and therefore experienced less time with their parents and other children have seen their basic skills heavily regress. Although this does not explicitly point out an inequality, typically, households with higher incomes are able to work more flexibly from home. Hence, a disproportionate number of low-income households surely have had to deal with their children’s regressions in education. A clearer illustration of the inequalities the pandemic caused in education were the UK’s GCSE and A -Level grades of 2020. This was a year where grades were adjusted according to every school’s reputation and grades from past years. This was a problematic system because outliers on both ends of the spectrum were essentially put back in their place. Excellent students from poor schools received average grades, whereas students that would not have performed so well at the best schools were rescued by the skewed system. These are the types of policies that keep the socio-economic divide wide open.

In July 2020, Public Health England found that people of Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic (BAME) groups were more likely to be exposed to and diagnosed with COVID-19, and more likely to die from it than those of white ethnicity. This is a multi-layered issue that highlights a number of ethnic inequalities around the world. Having already addressed the impact that low- income and poor housing has had on so many people during this pandemic, it is important to mention that a disproportionate number of minority ethnicities are living below the poverty rate in the UK which gives a

direct correlation to these communities also being most afflicted by the virus. Minority ethnicities also work a lot in the health and social care industry so not only do they come into contact with the virus nearly every day, but they also became victim to furlough and the extremely stripped back social care industry. BAME communities are also more likely to live in densely populated areas with overcrowded housing. This makes household isolation more challenging and increases the risk of intra-household transmission. This contributes to explaining higher death rates in BAME populations where vulnerable older adults or those in shield categories may find it harder to isolate. This is a product of the Windrush generation being confined to low-income jobs in service industries and cramped estate housing. This started a cycle that is incredibly difficult to escape from due to low-quality education that caused a lot of BAME communities to become disenfranchised with the oppressive system, and to resort to crime and illegal activity to make money, as the only other way to be released from the cycle of poverty is through music and sport. It is also the case that BAME are more likely than Caucasians to have underlying factors influencing health outcomes that affect minority communities in particular – demographics, existing health conditions, health behaviours and family structures are all contributors that have been identified in national literature.


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