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For poor countries, lockdowns cost more lives than they save

In tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, solutions for rich countries do not apply universally

By Toby Green  
A South African taxi driver is arrested in Cape Town for breaking lockdown rules. Credit: Roger Sedres / Alamy Stock Photo

A South African taxi driver is arrested in Cape Town for breaking lockdown rules. Credit: Roger Sedres / Alamy Stock Photo

Since the onset of the pandemic, progressive thought has held that you should always seek to protect lives instead of protecting the economy. Yet choices are not always so clear, particularly in poor countries. In fact, for many years evidence in the Global South has shown that saving lives involves protecting the economy.

Few social scientists have been called on to contribute to the major policy decisions regarding this pandemic. Yet they have known for decades that GDP is closely related to life expectancy in poor countries. This is demonstrated by the so-called Preston Curve. The Preston Curve…

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