Poverty and COVID-19

The pandemic COVID-19 is likely to hit the poorest the hardest. The 2020 global Multidimensional Poverty Index indicates that 1.3 billion people around the world live in multidimensional poverty. OPHI is concerned that COVID-19 will lead to a surge in the number of multidimensionally poor persons in many countries.

Some negative impacts will include:

  • Dangerous shortages of food and water for many households as markets and services cease functioning and household savings run out.
  • School closures affecting not just children’s educational and social development, but also their access to other child benefits such as school feeding programmes.
  • Rising unemployment, especially for those working in the informal sector and gig economies who may lack savings.
  • Families – either previously eligible or newly eligible – for targeted benefits unable to receive support due to physical distancing requirements or lack of mobile phones/banking.

In addition to the direct impacts on people, the measurement of multidimensional poverty is already adversely affected and will need to respond:   

  • Household surveys are needing to find alternative data sources to keep measuring multidimensional poverty amidst the crisis.
  • What is measured may also need to change to reflect the impact of COVID-19 on households.

In this section, we share our latest research for both emergency and post-emergency responses.

Contact us:
If you would like to contact us for collaboration or information-sharing, please email ophi@qeh.ox.ac.uk.
For media enquiries, please contact maya.evans@qeh.ox.ac.uk.