Annie Tubadji (Swansea University): „Cultural devaluation of life on individual and regional level during Covid-19“
By international law, the human right to life is an absolute right for every human being. However, the pandemic COVID-19 witnesses the urging of non-essential UK workers, such as construction and manufacturing workers, to restart work, because this is essential for the economy, without any wage adjustment for the higher exposure to risk for their life. In its essence, this is an act of cultural devaluation of the life of this economic class of workers on the labour market, where the economic value of their lives is only considered on aggregate level, and their individual cultural right to life (which by law should be at place on an absolutely egalitarian principle with all other labourers) is denied to them. The current study uses a Value of Statistical Life model on individual level and employs data from Census 2011 and latest ONS releases on exposure to contagion by occupation and by region. Based on a detailed data decomposition analysis, we show that there is an absolute discrimination in human rights. It applies to workers from a certain economic class and it is associated with exposure to higher risk of contagion for the category of people whose demographic characteristics identify them as the most likely victims of the uncurable disease, namely: the male, above middle age people with worse health, who are also more often likely to be non-white or foreign by birth. Moreover, this lack of altruism towards a certain economic class of workers is bound to very soon remind us the benefits from altruism. The instigated increase of contagion with COVID-19 (due to the exposure of these most vulnerable contingent of workers) will clearly increase significantly the risk and the actual numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths, especially in the regions with higher concentration of lower-skilled workers, but also ultimately nationwide.