Writing over 200 years ago, Adam Smith asked how “a man of humanity” would react to a catastrophe in a far-off land. “If he was to lose his little finger tomorrow, he would not sleep tonight.” And yet, with enough distance from the event, he would “snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred million of his brethren.”
In December, a UN report estimated that Covid-19 will push not 100m people, but 200m—mostly in Africa—into extreme poverty. This will bring the total living below the generally accepted breadline (calculated at $1.93 a day) to one billion.
Most people would agree that is a catastrophe, so how will we react? Well, not by providing more aid, it would seem. At present, Britain is the only G7 country to spend at least 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas development assistance. But it will…
Register today to continue reading
You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.
You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.
Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information.
Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.
Already a subscriber? Log in here