Photo: Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France before the French Revolution, is considered a symbol of the excess of the monarchy. Courtesy: Wikipedia/Edited by We Rep STEM.
Economic inequality has been a hot-button topic for years, along with access to universal health care in countries like the U.S., where the system is largely privatized. Still, the results of a small-scale survey hint the COVID-19 pandemic could be shining a renewed spotlight on financial disparities, with an increasing number of people saying governments should work to lessen the divide.
A national Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Lehigh University between April 7-9, 2020 found that 78 per cent of the 2,018 American participants agreed that “considering the spread of coronavirus in the United States and its impact on the economy and the American people,” it is “somewhat” or “very important” that “the U.S. government commit to reducing economic inequality” over the next year with initiatives like raising the minimum wage or increasing taxes for high-income households.
Support for inequality reduction was highest amongst participants in the 35-44 age range at 88 per cent compared with 67 per cent of participants in the 65+ age range.
About 43 per cent of the participants believe COVID-19 economic woes are only temporary.
Is COVID-19 changing views on economic inequality?
Earlier this year, data by Pew Research suggested that 61 per cent of Americans felt there was too much economic inequality in the U.S., but fewer than half considered it a top priority, hinting the recent pandemic is shifting societal views on economic inequality if one were to directly compare the results of the two surveys.
While the polling data divides participants by age, gender, and income, there is little analysis given to race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation — which could provide further insight, given that racial and sexual minorities are high-risk population segments amid the pandemic.
Earlier this month, UN independent human rights experts called on governments to commit to racial equity and equality in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The call-to-action comes amid reports that African Americans are significantly more likely to die from COVID-19 when compared to other races in parts of the U.S., even in areas where the population is predominantly white.
And stay-at-home orders could be particularly harmful to members of the LGBTQ community, who may be forced to isolate in unsupportive households, without access to much-needed support systems.