Inequalities: the continuing debate

Coronavirus or more technically COVID-19 has shaken both internal and international societal structures. All the economic and social institutions have taken a hard hit. As the number of cases and deaths soar each day, the inability of these institutions to cope reveals a fundamental flaw at their roots. Many observers think that this pandemic has been a difficult trial for the current societal structure which had been gradually cultivated by experiences, ideologies, and negotiations of the past. These past experiences include the great plagues, Leprosy, Cholera, the Spanish Flu, HIV, Ebola, SARS,etc. That means we are not entirely defenceless, after all. However, the nature of COVID-19 is different, and it has not been deciphered yet.

Because the world is more populous than ever, the already high inequalities between rich and poor or privileged or unprivileged widen each day, and environmental degeneration gets accelerated. Moreover, the already fragile economic and social systems also face different and more difficult problems. Therefore, it is expected that some fundamental changes will occur or perhaps even a new world order will draw the path for future generations and institutions against numerous new crises. Indeed, by thoroughly examining the past and the present, one comes to acknowledge that crises will always accompany the human society as long as it exists.

After briefly contemplating the past and the future, it is important to examine what kind of problems have been arising due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our socioeconomic structure. The most severe impact (as can be guessed) has been on the economy. The three most essential components of the economic chain have been negatively affected ,that are: supply, demand, and confidence (Boone,2020). The factory closures, closures in many service sectors branches such as cafes as well as shops; protectionist policies banning the export of certain food products (Wilson,2020) have been disrupting the supply side.Moreover, the decline of company investments and aggregate demand by consumers have been disrupting the demand side. Of course, the confidence factor has been affecting both the supply and demand side by reducing the number of speculative investments and spending on the part of governments, businesses, and consumers. Disruptions in the global supply-demand chain and imbalances in imports and exports seem to create some shocks that would result in increasing prices coupled with decreasing spending and confidence (Baldwin&Tomiura,2020).It is essential to point out the fact that nations that are mainly dependent on imports and tourism as well as developing nations whose markets are newly being integrated into the global chains will be severely affected (“A Shock Like No Other: Coronavirus Rattles Commodity Markets”, 2020). Within the national supply-demand chains, the disruptions seem to be mainly arising from panic buying. The excess demand on certain products (interestingly for toilet paper, especially in the USA) and hoarding, put a strain on production and distribution by creating “phantom demands” (Bekiempis, 2020). This situation causes some people (especially working people) to become deprived of essential nutritional and hygienic supplies and it retains some producers to produce other essentials. According to Bekiempis (2020), this situation may cause shelves to be clogged by toilet paper very soon! The other aspect of COVID-19’s economic impact is the global recession mainly caused by supply-demand disruptions. Loss of GDP, bankruptcies, mass unemployment, homelessness, difficulties in getting credit, and growing inequalities will have devastating effects on millions of people (It is important to remind that the impacts of the 2008 crisis still lingers).

Furthermore, it can be said that there will be mass downward mobility as many working-class families and individuals will fall under the poverty line, and many middle-class families as well as individuals will experience a hard fall from grace. Therefore, it can be said that the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy will generate more fierce competition among nations and groups on already scarce resources and change the nature of production and exchange relationships. Perhaps there will be a more swift transition in replacing many manual and non-manual workforce with artificial intelligence to increase efficiency. Moreover, all sorts of financial exchanges, banking operations, and payments may be transported entirely into the digital realm; even the paper currency may be converted to digital currency altogether in order to make the flow of capital more swift and flexible( of course the speculative bubbles that may arise from this situation is another problem).

COVID-19 has also undermined the infrastructure of governments around the world. The medical staff, technological devices, and protective types of equipment are needed more than ever. Interestingly, this situation not only reveals the structural weaknesses but also shows that emerging war between countries to get a hold of medical supplies and especially masks has turned the global supply-demand arena into an auction centre in which piracy is the most general rule among desparate nations (Willsher, Borger & Holmes, 2020).

Of course, all these situations reflect itself within the social and political spheres as well. Growing economic instabilities and structural deficiencies not only reduce the trust in governments but also reduce the trust in our globally integrated neoliberal system. Lack of trust in international partnerships and organizations may lead some nations to become closed in themselves, and growing lack of trust among different groups may lead some nations to adopt more conservative attitudes. Thus, this may feed polarizations (within and among nations) and de-globalization arguments. Growing polarization and conservatism may enhance state control, surveillance, and authoritarianism with the aim of “protection”. Therefore, producing knowledge and obtaining information might be more difficult than ever, and inequalities within this sphere might be more rigid. 

After briefly examining this general picture of the global crisis, it becomes possible to systematically examine how exactly this situation is related to prevailing inequalities within the global, national, and local levels. Inequality is conceptualized within the resource base for self-sufficiency, capacity forming, and access. Inequalities within the global level are conceptualized as inequalities among nations and related to availability(amount) as well as distribution of resources. Moreover, inequalities within the local level are conceptualized as inequalities within the nations and related to access as well as use of resources. The phenomena that give rise to inequalities within different levels may cross-cut with each other as the inequalities among the nations give rise to inequalities within. The below table depicts the levels of inequality.

Inequalities among nationsInequalities within nations
Wealth gapClass and socioeconomic situation
Strength of infrastructureRace, ethnicity, and gender
GovernanceDependency situation
Demographic situationPolitical affiliation
The impact of environmental risk factors and  environmental degeneration

All the phenomena will be explained along several axes: how the situation affects nations, how it generates inequalities, how it is related to COVID-19 response, how inequalities affect the responses and how the responses affect inequalities.

Wealth Gap

Wealth is the most fundamental resource base a nation has for human development and protection. A strong economy and accompanying wealth allow nations to provide a better welfare infrastructure and a safety net to a tremendous amount of people and businesses. However, it is observed that not every nation shares the same amount of resource base and means to allocate them. A generous portion of Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia are the regions where the poorest nations of the world are located. A large portion of their GDP is derived from agricultural and touristic activities. Their industrial and service sectors are in the process of gradual development and need for foreign investments or “support” because these national economies are not strong enough to support them. As explained earlier, the fluctuations in the supply-demand chain and decrease of demand (especially in the tourism sector) caused by the global recession will drain more of their already scarce resources. Thus, this situation will increase indebtedness while weakening the national economy. (The World Bank already reported in 2019 that the total amount of debt of low and middle-income countries increased by 5.3% in the previous year) (The World Bank, 2019). Already high debt and drying up resources will not only further undermine the safety net for welfare and financial protection but also hamper the development process and push more people into severe poverty. Thus, many developing low-income nations will be stuck in a dependency cycle.

Moreover, when considering the economic losses that many affluent nations will face, the time and resources that these low-income nations need to get back on the track will climb up each year. Another point to emphasize is that since these low-income nations have a more fragile resource base, they will be in a more disadvantaged position within the global auction for medical supplies and treatment(s). This situation shows that the wealth gap put nations in different positions within the global hierarchy of primacy for essential resources and relationships of power.

Strength of the infrastructure

Infrastructure is a pervasive notion and encompasses many aspects such as healthcare (mental and physical), longevity, nutrition, housing, sanitation, electricity, education, skilled labour force, use and quality of technology, and care for the deceased. The strength of the infrastructure is measured in terms of its quality and inclusiveness. It is crucial in providing a cushion to ease the fall and speeding up the recovery process. The nations that have better, and more robust infrastructure will be able to provide better care for the majority, and their citizens will be less vulnerable to fatal conditions both physically and materially. Many nations in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia, and Southeast Asia have a weaker infrastructure because the strength of the infrastructure strongly correlates with the wealth of a nation. The lack of or deficits in the necessary infrastructure(in terms of sanitation, nutrition, housing, electricity, and healthcare) expose many people to a variety of infectious, parasitic, and other types of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria; and weaken their immune system due to lack of appropriate means for hygiene, inadequate and insufficient quality of nutrition, and low levels of protection from outside dangers.

Moreover, inadequate access to and low quality of healthcare facilities only worsen the situation. Together with the prevalent poverty, weak infrastructure puts nearly every person in these nations within the risk group. Mostly lack adequate means for hygiene (especially when hand washing and maintaining personal hygiene is crucial for being protected from the COVID-19), will seem to infect and kill more people in these nations than in any other place.  

Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum that houses over 1 million people, is a striking example (Yashoda, 2020). People in Dharavi live in cramped conditions and have to use toilets as well as water supplies collectively. This circumstance makes both self-care and social distancing nearly impossible. Moreover, due to prevalent poverty and quarantine conditions, people are struggling to meet their fundamental needs such as nutrition. Indian authorities’ inability to provide adequate welfare and their ineffectiveness in implementing protective measures puts the residents in a fatal danger because they are already physically and economically weak.

Another interesting example is that due to weak infrastructure and officials’ inefficiency,many criminal organizations such as cartels in Mexico and Brazil are reported to be distributing help packages and small services to poor neighborhoods (Fajardo, 2020). It is quite apparent that these criminal organizations have not transformed themselves into charities. The main question is how the governments will recover their authority after these organizations have consolidated their legitimacy within these neighbourhoods? Since there is a generous portion of people living in poverty and impoverished regions in Latin America, it is expected that the criminal organizations will extend their arms further and more profoundly. This situation shows that a weak infrastructure not only makes people physically more vulnerable but also undermines government authority more deeply.

The other aspects of infrastructure (skilled labour force, use and quality of technology) are essential in providing efficient care and establishing strong networks. The skilled labour force in medical care, the I.T. sector, and public institutions is vital in being informed about people’s situations as well as providing appropriate care for them. The use and quality of technologies (especially in communication such as the internet) is also crucial. The nations that lack these aspects will have a problem in informing people and being informed about them. Thus, appropriate care will not reach many. The care for the deceased, on the other hand, has become more crucial than ever because of the increasing deaths due to COVID-19. This seems like a common problem for most nations and especially for those that have the highest death tolls. However, this problem has more severe impacts on nations with weaker infrastructure, even if their death tolls are relatively low. For example, while funeral and morgue services in New York are under growing pressure (Kestler-D’Amours, 2020), the deceased in the most crowded city in Ecuador (Guayaquil) are being left on the streets because the already weak public services are overloaded and unable to collect people who passed away in their homes (Gray, 2020). This situation indicates that not only COVID-19 but also additional health problems arising from this type of infrastructure deficits will exacerbate the death toll. 

Thus, the strength of infrastructure is dependent on the wealth of a nation and crucial for the protection of the masses against COVID-19 and additional problems caused by the excessive strain on the public services. The differences in the strength of infrastructure in affluent and lower-income countries put citizens of these nations into varying degrees of danger. The nations with a more substantial infrastructure are more responsive to the problems caused by COVID-19 and are able to provide better and more extensive care. On the other hand, people living in low-income nations with a weak infrastructure are already physically vulnerable and lack adequate means to access many fundamental resources that would raise their living standards to moderate levels. As the COVID-19 cases increase, the public services in these nations struggle to maintain their usual efficiency and slowly approach the point of total collapse.

Moreover, each increase on this strain and rising absolute poverty levels will push more people into a cycle of deprivation from which the recovery seems nearly impossible as the chances of recovery from the post-COVID economy gets more difficult due to the drying resources and cracking state legitimacy. These arguments are relatively straightforward and predictable. One might counterargue that right now, the affluent nations with stronger infrastructures such as Italy and France have the highest death rates and are under immense pressure. Well, one reason is that testing strategies and recording death rates are not uniform all around the world. For example, in Italy (and others such as Germany and Hong Kong) all COVID-19 patients who passed away are recorded as having died from the virus regardless of other underlying conditions such as cancer or heart attack(Henriques, 2020). In many African and Asian nations, on the other hand, death rates seem lower because they lack adequate means to provide widespread testing and their weak healthcare systems do not provide systematic medical recording (Jha, Gelband, La Vecchia, Bogoch, Brown&Nagelkerke). After considering these points, it can be said that even though the nations with more substantial infrastructures are struggling to provide widespread care, they still have the capacity to recover or reform unlike the nations with weaker infrastructures.

Governance

The Oxford Dictionary defines governance as “The action or manner of governing a state, an organization” Indeed, this manner encompasses many critical phenomena such as political stability, the effectiveness of the government, control of corruption, quality of the regulation mechanisms, and the strength of the rule of law.(“WGI-Home”, 2020). Fundamentally, governance is about the strength and flexibility of policies and the institutions through which these policies are implemented. Nations with better governance are able to provide better and swift protection to workers, households, and businesses in terms of economic relief and other benefits. They are able to sustain the supply-demand disruptions at an optimum level and take fast measures against the spread (closing public spaces, and schools early). Governance (and especially the strength of the policy measures) establishes the safety net using resource base (wealth) and infrastructure. Moreover, it is also a significant factor in protecting state legitimacy. 

Germany seems to set a good example in good governance when applying strong policy measures (mostly fiscal). The German government has allocated a supplementary budget which is nearly 5% of its national GDP. This budget provides benefits in terms of healthcare(equipment, capacity, vaccine research), enlarged access to “Kurzarbeit” or short-term subsidy for protecting workers and their incomes, easy access to income support for self-employed, economic support for businesses and self-employed, direct economic support, ease in credits, expanding the duration of unemployment insurance and parental leave benefits, and childcare benefits for low-income households. Moreover, the government has also implemented monetary policies to provide relief to banks and increase liquidity (IMF, “Policy Responses to COVID19”, 2020). As can be seen, the inclusive policy measures that make use of a large resource base and vital infrastructure, are providing protection and benefits in a variety of categories to many vulnerable groups (workers, low-income households, self-employed). Thus, they provide them with ease in recovery while ensuring their well-being.

The United States, on the other hand, has allocated an enormous aid budget ( 2.3 trillion $) to “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security Act” (CARES Act) that provides benefits in terms of tax rebates, extended unemployment benefits, and food safety net for vulnerable groups.Thus, preventing corporate bankruptcies, protecting small-businesses that keep their workers.Moreover, the US government has allocated 484 billion $ for “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” that aims to protect small businesses and strengthen healthcare, 8.3 billion $ for “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act” and 192 billion $ for “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” which together mainly aim to strengthen the healthcare, vaccine development, food support, expanded unemployment insurance, and expansion of Small Business Administration loan subsidies(IMF, “Policy Responses to COVID19”, 2020). The interesting point is that while the United States has an extensive resource base, the measures seem to be mainly allocated for protecting and bolstering the healthcare system and businesses instead of focusing on protecting the most vulnerable groups such as workers and providing support to these households in a variety of categories like the German government has been doing. CARES Act consumes the most significant part of the aid budget. However, the support allocated for establishing a food safety net consumes the smallest amount (24 billion $) of this budget; while support for preventing bankruptcy consumes the biggest amount (510 billion $). There is not any clear data on how much money exactly these businesses and corporations need to maintain the optimum levels for operations and profits, but with high levels of poverty(38.1 million in 2018) (Semega, Kollar, Creame & Mohanty, 2019) and growing income inequality indicate that a high number of vulnerable groups need more inclusive and extensive  support. Thus, this situation raises certain doubts about whether a substantial resource base automatically creates strong policy measures to provide care and support for all.

Lebanon, with a small resource base and weak infrastructure, has been shaken by political instability and failing to execute good governance. Political corruption and economic instability have undermined the government’s capacity to implement strong policy measures and the functioning of public institutions to provide support and protection for the masses and businesses. This situation has left many people vulnerable in maintaining their well-being against COVID-19 as well as the care for their most basic needs such as nutrition. Chulov (2020) reports that approximately 75% of the population requires aid, including nutritional support. Even though the NGOs’ are actively trying to reach as many people as possible, it is hardly adequate.

As can be seen from these examples and arguments, strong policy measures that depend on good governance, strong resource base, and infrastructure are crucial in stabilizing the economy, maintaining the smooth functioning of social institutions, and providing financial protection and well-being for households. However, it must be emphasized that not only the material factors but also the strategies to allocate them are also crucial.

Demographic situation

The demographic situation of a nation can be understood in terms of its population size and median age. The size of the population is an essential factor that affects the amount of pressure on the welfare system and infrastructure. High population levels make it more challenging to provide extensive testing and care to tackle COVID-19. Median age is also an essential factor since older age groups (especially 65 and older) are more vulnerable to complications caused by COVID-19. Moreover, it might be one of the factors that caused high mortality rates in Europe and especially in Italy. In Italy, the median age is 46.5, and 22.8% of the population is 65 years old and older (CIA,2020). The number of deaths is significantly higher for the age groups of 70-79(7,912) and 80-89(11.543) (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, May 8, 2020).

Moreover, more than 80% of the deaths belonged to the age group 70 and older(Istituto Superiore di Sanità, May 8, 2020). This means that Italy and other nations with a high median age are more vulnerable to lose a significant portion of their population, and this too strains the welfare system since older age groups need more and extensive care. However, COVID-19 is still a mortal danger for all age groups. For the nations that have an earlier median age (especially developing and low-income nations), there is a more complicated problem. Since these nations have a weaker infrastructure and higher rates of youth dependency ratio, the high number of deaths for the age groups of 15 and higher will leave behind a significant number of orphans and young people in need. Moreover, reduction in the significant portion of the working-age population and an increasing number of young people in need will profoundly undermine both the welfare and capacity to recover (Glatzer, Camfield, Møller & Rojas, 2015). As can be seen, population size and age distribution are essential factors generating discrepancies among nations regarding COVID-19 measures, future challenges for economic and social policies, and infrastructure. 

The impact of environmental degeneration and risk factors

The environment and health are strongly correlated with each other. Environmental factors that distribute resources and shape lifestyles also affect the degree of physical vulnerability experienced. Environmental risk factors that change the environment in an accelerated way can be regarded as important in determining measures and (as stated earlier) the degree of physical vulnerability against COVID-19. 

Environmental risk factors that contribute to environmental degeneration are pollution, microbes (in the air, water, or soil), chemicals, radiation; but more importantly droughts, heatwaves, and other natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods that are caused by climate change. Even though all of these risk factors cause environmental degeneration globally, their hazardous impacts differ among nations. Environmental degeneration causes the most harm to people living in Sub-Saharan, Africa and Asia. High population rates, weak regulations, and widespread poverty lead people to maintain their survival through unsustainable ways. Thus, this situation puts people into a cycle in which their unsustainable lives cause more harm to their health, and their poor health pushes them into absolute poverty (Prüss-Ustün, Wolf, Corvalán, Bos & Neira, 2016). Climate change, on the other hand, exposes these people to greater danger. Heathstrokes, water scarcity, infectious diseases, food shortages are only the tip of the iceberg. Resulting from migration patterns and conflicts will further contribute to the environmental degeneration and weakening of the infrastructures (Prüss-Ustün, Wolf, Corvalán, Bos & Neira, 2016).

Moreover, as discussed in the previous section, a significant portion of people ( approximately 80% of the world population) (“Q&A on Climate Change and COVID-19”, 2020) already suffer from water scarcity, and climate change further threatens the available water resources for drinking, sanitation, food production, and healthcare. Increasing water stress and changing water cycles also cause water contamination and the easy spread of infectious diseases (“Water and the global climate crisis: 10 things you should know”, 2020). A report by the World Bank Group(2018) states that economic water scarcity resulting from climate change will cause a tremendous amount of GDP losses by 2050 especially in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa where water scarcity is already a significant problem (The World Bank, 2018). This situation shows that environmental degeneration creates a cycle of harm, encompassing both the institutions and people.

Class and socioeconomic status

Class is an extensive and contested notion. However, its effects on individuals’ and households’ degree of access, resource base, and well-being are crucial. Resource base is mainly composed of economic capital in terms of income and wealth, social capital in terms of social networks, cultural capital in terms of skills and credentials. The class position also affects geographical resources in terms of the quality of housing and neighbourhood. Moreover, class plays an essential role in determining the type and degree of access individuals and households possess in terms of access to welfare and information. Thus, it can be stated that the class position strongly determines the life-styles and self-sustainability of individuals and households. 

When it comes to our current time of crisis, what kind of roles do the resource base and access play? The experience of deprivation in terms of basic welfare (nutrition, housing, sanitation, and education) seems to be significantly determined by the economic capital, more importantly, its effects on the geographical resources or the quality of the environment that determines the degree of this deprivation. Moreover, deprivation plays a great role in health status or physical vulnerability. The concentration of low-income households into crowded and poor regions in the forms of shantytowns, slums, ghettos, favelas, etc. that are usually deprived of basic infrastructure and access to care facilities not only generates the easy spread of infectious diseases but allows some serious illnesses such as cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases (Adler & Newman, 2002) to be left untamed.Moreover, environmental risks such as pollution and prevalent malnutrition only worsens the physical vulnerability. Deprivation also diminishes cultural capital and severely harms the channels of access not only to care facilities but also to information through which news and means for self-care can be conveyed. Thus, this situation leaves these people physically vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 (especially during quarantine). Most of these people belong to lower working classes or lumpenproletariat. However, for people who belong to relatively higher but still in low-class positions, the forces of deprivation are still active even though the degree changes. For example, many that live in metropolitan areas like Istanbul have to live in cramped, old apartments, and unsafe neighbourhoods. Especially during the quarantine, these low-quality environments cause not only physical vulnerability but also psychological problems such as depression or exacerbate current problems.

Moreover, alongside social distancing, distance learning can be a problem within this environment where technological or internet infrastructure and a decent place to study may be lacking or non-existent. The occupational positions of these people also play an important role both in physical well-being and vulnerability. Most of these people work in blue-collar occupations such as in factories or construction sites. These kinds of occupations usually expose people more to physical and psychological insecurities (Adler & Newman, 2002). Many blue-collar and retail workers do not have the luxury to work at home, and this brings them in close contact with the virus. Many of those people are not provided with the necessary protection in the workplace.

Moreover, they are also more vulnerable to fluctuations in the market. Due to disruptions in the supply-demand chain caused by COVID-19, many working-class people around the world are facing the risks of unemployment, and the number of unemployed is expected to rise each day. It must also be pointed out that the material benefits of social capital are quite scarce compared to higher classes and unemployment may further shrink it.

As can be seen, there is some sort of a cyclical relationship between the resource base, access, the current well-being, and means for self-sustainability and care that the class situation brings. Individuals and groups in lower-class positions have a small resource base and weak channels of access. Thus, this results in physical and material deprivation, and this further undermines the resource base and channels of access through a weakened capacity. People caught up within this cycle do not have the necessary means to protect themselves from the virus, and this makes lower-class individuals and households, especially vulnerable to COVID-19. However, this cycle also prevents them from getting access to the care they need when infected. Perhaps one of the most striking examples is from the USA. In the USA healthcare is primarily privatized, and a single visit to the doctor’s office or a couple of days of hospital stay can cost vast amounts of dollars. Health insurance receives payments from individuals or employers and serves as a cushion to ease these medical bills (“How U.S. Health Insurance Works | Vaden Health Services”). However, health insurance is not a type of commitment that everybody can afford. This means that people from lower classes and the unemployed are left in a dilemma in which it is quite challenging to seek medical help without risking bankruptcy.

Race, ethnicity, and gender

Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities seem to follow the lines of class inequalities. Racial or ethnic minorities, women, and people with different sexual orientations are usually marginalized and pushed lower within the social stratification. Especially racial and ethnic minorities are pushed physically to the fringes of society. They tend to live in closed settlement places or neighbourhoods that are usually deprived in terms of infrastructure and safety. Thus, the disproportionate allocation of minorities in risky occupations and their inferior position within the class hierarchy as marginalized groups brings all the adverse effects that are listed in the previous section. According to a news release by the U.S. Department of Labour (April 2020) regarding the employment status, the unemployment rate for adult females (15.5%) was higher than the rate for adult males (13%).

Moreover, the unemployment rates for African Americans (16.7%), Latin Americans (18.9%), and Asian Americans (14.5%) were higher than white Americans (14.2%). Interestingly, the increase in the unemployment rate for African Americans (10%) from March was lower than the increase in the unemployment rate for white Americans (10.2%). On the other hand, the increase in the unemployment rate for Latin Americans (12.9%) was the highest among all groups.

Ethnic and racial discrimination may also be reflected and legitimized within the legal system. For example, in the USA, the government distributes direct payment for aid called “stimulus payment”. However, in order to obtain it, the citizens must possess a “social security number” and file the taxes with it. Many immigrants who have the right to work or reside (along with undocumented immigrants) do not have this number. Instead, they fill their taxes with another identification number (“Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)”). Thus, this situation excludes not only the immigrants (whether they are documented or undocumented) but also their spouses who fill their taxes jointly and their children from the aid program (Cevallos, 2020). As can be seen, whether in the form of social or legal discrimination, minorities are systematically excluded from the necessary means to maintain their well-being and face deprivation.

Dependency situation

The dependency situation is mainly understood in terms of age and disability situation. If the caregivers are absent or unable to provide adequate care, the dependent individuals will either be left alone to take care of themselves or be left at the mercy of public institutions ,charities or NGOs. Within nations that lack an effective and inclusive welfare system ,people with disabilities(mental and physical) and  older as well as younger people who are left responsible for maintaining their well-being are usually pushed lower within the social stratification and towards marginal spaces (if they belong to a minority group, the chances are high that they will be pushed even lower ). Thus, they face severe deprivation because they lack the physical capacity to care for themselves and the adequate means for it. 

Since the COVID-19 has fatal consequences, especially for old age groups, older people who receive care in nursing homes or their homes are especially vulnerable. If the government cannot provide necessary care for facilities and medical staff, death rates will be significantly higher for these people. Moreover, it must be emphasized that since caring occupations for the dependent are usually filled by women who belong to ethnic minorities, the discrimination and resulting deprivation they face might further exacerbate the vulnerabilities these two groups ( the dependent and the minorities) face. Thus, create some sort of a double-edged sword that would allow infection and death rates to follow the lines of these social and economic inequalities. As can be seen, not only their sole status of being dependent but also how they are treated or cared determines the degree of vulnerability to COVID-19.

Political Affiliation

Within the nations that are highly politically polarized such as Turkey, social networks that are constituted by political tendencies and party affiliations may be an essential factor in establishing connections that would provide social, economic, and medical aid. Thus, it would generate inequalities among people who face similar levels of deprivation.

To conclude, COVID-19 has shaken the social and economic structures, both internally and internationally. Thus, already existing inequalities among and within the nations have become widened and more problematic. These inequalities that already have been undermining the resource base and strategies for survival at the global, national and local levels are now changing the relations of power and life-styles altogether at the benefit of the ones who already stand above some others. As one discovers more dimensions regarding the social and economic structures, it becomes clear that inequalities inherent in them are pushing more people into the zone of systematic deprivation and disadvantage. Thus, they are now unable to protect themselves against the COVID-19 and its repercussions on the economic, social, political as well as private spheres. Of course, COVID-19 is not the only test for humanity as well as their social structure, but it will cause one of the most devastating social, economic, and political degenerations the 21st century will ever experience.

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