Coping with COVID-19 from the Capability Perspective: A View from a Developing Country

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    Faced with cruel dilemmas posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many
    developing countries have been reluctant to impose a strict
    shutdown, and even when they did they have tended to relax it
    prematurely. This is a manifestation of the way most policymakers
    continue to be guided by the single-minded pursuit of economic
    growth even if at the cost of human misery. This paper argues
    that there is a better way of handling the pandemic – one that
    places human capability at the centre of policymaking. The
    proposed strategy consists of a judicious combination of three
    types of policy instruments: (a) physical distancing through
    economic shutdown, as a means of containing the spread of
    infection, (b) bold measures of economic support, especially
    entitlement support to households, who are facing the spectre of
    hunger as a consequence of economic shutdown, and (c) an
    effective system of public health support, as a means of ensuring
    that the economy can be reopened ‘safely’. While all three
    instruments are important, special emphasis is given on the role
    of entitlement support, in the form of income protection for
    households who have lost their livelihoods. The specific empirical
    focus is on Bangladesh, but the arguments have more general
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-26
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
    Issue number1
    Early online date30 Dec 2020
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Jan 2021


    • Pandemic
    • capability
    • livelihoods


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