This week, PS talks with Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development at the University of Oxford and the co-author (with Robert Muggah) of Terra Incognita: 100 Maps to Survive the Next 100 Years.
Project Syndicate: As you and Robert Muggah noted in May, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief many of the negative side effects of rising economic inequality. In your recent BBC Series The Pandemic that Changed the World, you highlight the critical importance of equity in vaccine distribution. Could a plan for the equitable distribution of a vaccine be designed in a way that helps to catalyze broader efforts to address inequality in a post-COVID world? What might that look like?
Ian Goldin: The first step is the vaccine itself. It is vital that everyone – from the richest to the poorest, in developed and developing countries – be given access to any effective COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. If vaccines were available only to countries or individuals that can afford them, this would exacerbate existing health and economic inequalities.
Within countries, poor people – who most likely lack a savings cushion, and probably cannot secure an income working remotely – would have to risk exposure to the virus or face deepening poverty and hunger. And countries without access to vaccines would have to uphold social-distancing measures and even full lockdowns for longer, hampering their economic recovery. Given the negative impact this would have on overall global growth, even countries that did get access to a vaccine would ultimately be affected.
The good news is that GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, has received almost $10 billion to enable it to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries. But the vaccine itself is not enough. The same principles of global equity and solidarity that must shape vaccine-distribution efforts should also be applied to addressing other dimensions of inequality, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
We ask all our Say More contributors to tell our readers about a few books that have impressed them recently. Here are Goldin's picks:
by Jeffrey D. Sachs
Sachs’s newest book is a magisterial presentation of the historical origins of our entangled world. He shows that without these global flows of people, goods, technologies, and ideas, there would be no progress. But that doesn’t mean he is a globalization apologist. Far from it: he exposes globalization’s weaknesses. He also proposes ways to overcome them.
by Richard Baldwin
Written before COVID-19, this book has become even more salient as a result of the pandemic. Baldwin shows how automation is likely to create a new international division of labor, in which professional jobs are undertaken remotely at low-cost locations, with profound implications for future patterns of employment, growth, and incomes.
by Carl Benedikt Frey
My colleague Frey compares the current period of disruptive technological change to similar eras in the past. Building on the work of the group on the Future of Work that I founded at the Oxford Martin School, Frey highlights the need to take seriously the danger that automation and robotics will lead to massive inequality and job losses. He shows that even if everyone may be better off in the long term, significant numbers of people could face serious pain and suffering lasting for a generation or more, with profound economic, social, and political consequences.
From the PS Archive
Goldin demands coordinated action to address the systemic risks produced by globalization. Read more.
Goldin and Woetzel dispel the myth that immigrants impose a heavy economic burden on destination countries. Read more.
Around the web
In the International Monetary Fund’s latest issue of Finance & Development, Goldin shows why the only remedy to the pandemic-induced strain on economic and social fault lines is international cooperation. Read the article.
In an interview for Penguin Books, Goldin and Muggah discuss the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the ever-worsening climate crisis. Watch the video.