Giving Compass' Take:

• Neil Schoenherr, at Futurity, summarizes a report on how wealth and social status provide certain demographics with social distancing privilege and fewer adverse health effects.

• How does this epitomize the systemic injustices facing marginalized communities in the U.S.? How do environmental issues play a role in this divide? What are you doing to address and raise awareness towards social distancing privilege?

• Learn about how you can support funds for those struggling with a lack of social distancing privilege.

“Social distancing is a privilege that comes with resources and wealth, but wealth is not distributed equally in America,” says Michal Grinstein-Weiss, professor and director of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis. “Wealth gives individuals agency to make choices, like social distancing, that keep themselves and their families healthy.”

The SPI interviewed approximately 5,500 respondents from all 50 US states from April 27 to May 12.

“Lower liquid assets leave people in a position of choosing income over social distance safety,” Grinstein-Weiss says. “As money increases, affordability to social distance increases.”

Survey respondents also revealed other significant loss and hardships as a result of the pandemic. The survey finds that:

  • Low- and moderate-income households delayed major housing payments and health care;
  • Hispanic/Latinx homeowners were more than twice as likely (14.1%) to be evicted than non-Hispanic white (6.4%) and five times as likely as non-Hispanic Black (2.6%) homeowners, despite moratoriums on some evictions;
  • Job loss most affected Hispanic/Latinx (27%) and low-income individuals (29%);
  • One in three gig workers reported working less as a result of the pandemic, and 86% of those individuals said gig income was essential or important to their household budget;
  • and 34% of people who lost their job reported food insecurity.

Data suggest that the pandemic may exacerbate underlying inequalities, Grinstein-Weiss says.

“Understanding the wealth gap is important, but more critically we need to design policies that enable people to build wealth as the economy recovers,” she says.

Read the full article about social distancing privilege by Neil Schoenherr at Futurity.