Can the World’s Poor Protect Themselves from the New Coronavirus?
We propose an index of the adequacy of home environments for protection (HEP) from COVID-19, and we compare our index across developing countries using data for one million sampled households from the latest Demographic and Health Surveys. We find that prevailing WHO recommendations for protection posit unrealistic home environments. 90% of households have inadequate HEP by one or more dimensions considered. 40% do not have a formal health-care facility within 5km. A strong wealth effect is indicated within and between countries. Only 6% of the poorest 40% have an adequate HEP, and the proportion is virtually zero in sub-Saharan Africa.
For helpful comments on an earlier draft the authors thank Jishnu Das, Gaurav Datt, Madhulika Khanna, Juan Margitic, Berk Ozler, Daniel Valderrama-Gonzalez and participants at a webinar organized by the Center for Development Economics and Sustainability at Monash University. No financial support was received beyond the authors' academic salaries. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.