The pandemic has forced society to grapple with the link between health and economic fragility, and there is hope that some tough conversations about social and income inequality will become easier. But if the recent debate in the US over unemployment benefits and the labor market is any indication, it’s still not clear that a long-term shift is more likely than a return to old party-political talking points.
For Esther Duflo, a French-American economist and MIT professor who, as the youngest person to receive a Nobel Prize in economics – and only the second woman to receive this award – to understand the lives of the poor and develop measures to reduce poverty , was a professional mission long before the pandemic.
On the Road to Economic Recovery, Duflo told CNBC that gender inequality, unequal access to childcare, return to personal work mandates, and access to vaccines are among the many pressing issues surrounding return to work in the United States and the global economic recovery.
But when it comes to the debate about whether nationwide unemployment benefits are responsible for keeping workers out of the labor market, Duflo says economists like her are not satisfied with an opinion that is not based on actual research.
Last month, a variety of states across the country finished her $ 300 weekly Unemployment benefits before the federal expiration date on September 6, and some of those states even offer $ 2,000 Re-entry bonus.
Heads of state cut benefits in hopes of solving business hiring challenges, but Duflo agrees with many economists who don’t believe this is the cause or solution to the country’s tight labor market.
“This is not why people are not back to work as quickly as we think they should,” said Duflo.
That no longer means a financial cushion and government support has absolutely no influence on how people plan and act. But Duflo knew that making noises about “lazy” Americans was wrong. People may take more time to find the right job and, in many cases, relocate for a job.
And in the few weeks since states suspended benefits, it has labor force participation does not increase and in some cases the economy is damaged by reducing household spending.
There are still more than 10 million Americans participating in pandemic-related programs, but Duflo said unemployment benefits give people flexibility and “don’t make people lazy.”
The newest Initial application number Dismissed on Thursday, but the number of standing claims has fallen, the lowest insured unemployment rate since March 2020.
When people try to get back to work Childcare costs are a burden on women more than men. Many women are forced to stay at home, not because they do not want to go back to work, but because their job does not offer flexible options, does not pay enough for childcare or has no access to child care carers.
These are not new topics and the pandemic has brought them back to the fore as women accounted for the bulk of job losses in the US, wiping out decades of profits.
“We found that the current system just isn’t very practical. It just works.
As the federal government battles over the definition of infrastructure – many Democrats are pushing for funding that includes “human” infrastructures like childcare and paid vacation in new laws – Duflo said the US is lagging behind on childcare. In other developed regions like Europe, childcare is seen as a societal effort, while the US puts childcare responsibility solely on the mothers, she said.
In addition to this responsibility, said Duflo, there is an urge in the US to work unnecessarily long hours, and women are then pushed further behind male colleagues if they cannot keep up because they have to raise children.
Covid has led to a reassessment of the work-life balance, but has not solved the big problems for working women.
“This is a major obstacle to successful careers for women,” said Duflo.
Before the pandemic, it was estimated that it would last 150 years to close gender inequality Gap between women and men, according to the World Bank. Outside the US, lack of access to vaccines is likely to prolong this gap and create wider problems in the global economy.
“The global inequality in access to vaccines is a shame,” said Duflo. She said richer countries like European countries and the US would stockpile vaccines if a small percentage of people in poorer countries were vaccinated.
Countries in Asia were some of the first to be badly hit by Covid-19 and they could be among the last to be continuously hit due to their low vaccination rates. “It makes no sense not to have a certain amount of exchange and respect around the world,” said Duflo. “We have to correct that quickly.”
In May, the International Monetary Fund said $ 50 billion would have to be spent By the end of 2021, 40% of the world’s population should be vaccinated. Duflo said $ 50 billion is a small amount the US could pay compared to the trillion dollars it would spend on federal stimulus packages.
“It’s great news that the US is committed to giving 500 million vaccines, but there are seven billion people in the world,” said Duflo. “We need to vaccinate four billion of them as soon as possible.”