Professor Tito Boeri (fRDB) was audited at the Labor Committee of the Chamber of Deputies on May 27, 2021, as part of the fact-finding survey on the new inequalities produced by the pandemic in the labor market. During the speech, Professor Boeri highlighted that there are at least five characteristics of the crisis that make it different from the others:
- The double vulnerability. In the crisis, the health and economic dimensions overlapped. The most fragile families and communities in the regions most affected by the pandemic have paid the price twice: with higher-than-average mortality rates and higher income losses than others.
- It didn’t give us time to prepare. Normally, the employment impact of a crisis manifests itself gradually. It takes some time for the crisis to take its toll on families. In this crisis, entire lines of business have ceased to operate, leaving millions of people unemployed (and often without income).
- It has raged against those who did not have social safety nets. More than in past recessions have been the self-employed, small business owners and small business workers, all of whom are poorly protected by our system of social safety nets. Hence the need to introduce new ad hoc transfers, completely new.
- It was a she-cession. It has affected women more than men and not only because it has involved sectors such as tourism, with a predominant presence of women and people with fixed-term contracts (in the retail trade, women are the majority of temporary workers), but also because it has women the burden of childcare. We have had students without school and women without work.
- It further reduced social mobility. For a long time, the main social elevator, the school, was blocked, causing those who were already in difficult conditions to accumulate training delays that will be very difficult to fill. In addition, remote work has greatly increased without it being possible in time to equip those who did not have adequate housing conditions to transform their home (or a location close to home) into a workplace. And this also increases the inequality of opportunities.
To go beyond these qualitative findings, to quantify these new inequalities and, therefore, to know what we need to do to reduce them, we need data, especially cross-referencing of databases available in different public administrations. Data in Italy is still used too little in guiding economic policy. Often decisions are made “by intuition”, on the basis of reasoning without empirical evidence. An example of these intuitive decisions is that on the closure of schools during the pandemic, a decision often made without having any data available on the spread of infections associated with the reopening of schools. All this only goes to the detriment of the goodness of the decisions taken. In other countries close to us, however, the culture of data allows politicians and institutions to perform their task in a better way.
Here is the complete video of the speach. Please find below the button to download the complete text of the speach deposited at the Chamber of Deputies.