Crisis is exactly the time to make structural changes to address poverty and inequality

Together with Ng Kok Hoe (with whom I am collaborating on Minimum Income Standards research), I have written a piece on the coronavirus crisis for (I am also an editor of, a website maintained by a group of Singaporean academics to promote Singapore studies and to encourage critical debate about the state of intellectual life in Singapore.)

Can we do more? A rationalisation sometimes kicks in: In times of prosperity, people do not need help; in times of need, there are insufficient means to help. This mindset encourages inertia and delays change. The problems that poorer households faced in normal times have not been suspended because of the crisis. All the things that should have been done to help them then, now must be done.

The current crisis illuminates. It shows us where we most need to intervene to strengthen our social policies: Improving wage protection across all low-paying jobs, shoring up job security in new sectors of the economy, strengthening alternative retirement income sources, enhancing the social assistance regime, and extending the provision of public goods like care services.

Pressing ahead with necessary structural reforms will put individuals in a better position to build up buffers against future shocks and reduce the resources required for drastic crisis measures. It will also dampen the disproportionate economic impact on more vulnerable people next time.

Read the full post here.