Investigators: Victor Ginsburgh, Glenn Magerman, Ilaria Natali


In this paper, we examine the variation in the outbreak of COVID-19 across departments in continental France. We use information on the cumulated number of deaths, discharged patients and infections from COVID-19 at the department level, and study how these relate to income inequality, controlling for other factors. We find that unfortunately, inequality kills: departments with higher income inequality face more deaths, more discharged (gravely ill) patients and more infections. While other papers have studied the impact of the level of income on the severity of COVID-19, we find that it is in fact the dispersion across incomes within the same department that drives the results. Our results suggest that individuals in relatively more precarious conditions deserve dedicated policies, to avoid that temporary shocks such as COVID-19 lead to permanent increases in inequality.