THE LEX COLUMN: Middle classes: mushrooming no longer
Years of progress reversed as the coronavirus pandemic tips more people into poverty
Covid-19 has interrupted the supposedly inexorable rise of the middle classes. Once a trend on which the hopes of governments and purveyors of everything from shampoo to financial services were predicated, middle-class growth has been partially furloughed. In its place: rising poverty.
According to the World Bank, the pandemic will tip up to 60-million people into extreme poverty — that is, living on less than $1.90 a day. That will undo the progress made in the past five years. Slashed remittances — a big source of income for countries from the Philippines to India — and lost jobs weigh disproportionately on the poor. Depending on the severity of the impact on consumption, the Asian Development Bank sees its developing country members’ poor rising by between 90-million and 400-million. With nearly one person in five, or 734-million people, already living on $3.20 or less a day, that is a big reversal for a continent spearheading the elevation towards better lifestyles.