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The Covid-19 Crisis and Lockdown Measures: A Portrait from a Slum in Urban Argentina

Research on Economic Inequality: Poverty, Inequality and Shocks

ISBN: 978-1-80071-558-5, eISBN: 978-1-80071-557-8

ISSN: 1049-2585

Publication date: 2 December 2021


This chapter presents a quantitative description of the living conditions in a slum area of an intermediate Argentinean city during the outburst of the Covid-19 crisis using primary data collected four months after the lockdown measures had been introduced. The sample represents 1,500 households which claimed food assistance over this period, and whose deprivations and presence of young members are similar to that of 13% of the city’s population and 23% of the country’s population. Rough estimates suggest a disproportionate drop in employment and a disproportionate increase in unemployment in the area compared to those registered in the aggregate of the main urban agglomerations of the country. Cash transfers implemented during the lockdown, together with in-kind food aid from schools, the municipal government, and the church with non-governmental organizations, entailed a substantial average increase in the coverage of the cost of the basic food basket. However, non-trivial fractions of households were not covered by any of the main cash transfers. Also, and despite efforts, food insecurity could not be avoided. Considering the similarity of the sample to significant fractions of the country’s urban population, the deprivations experienced over 2020 by groups which were already in poverty before the Covid-19 arrival, raise alarms on the future well-being of these populations, especially for infants and children. Novel policies are required, addressing the various critical needs in an interconnected way, integrating the different stakeholders that have proven to be key in assisting these households during such an unprecedented covariate shock.




We thank Stella Maris Perez for valuable input over the survey design, Roberto Rodriguez for coordination over the data collection period, and the following volunteer enumerators: Jazmín Briatore, Isabella Briatore, Mirta de Arimatea, Gabriela Nigris, Eugenia de Vincenti, Camila Peña, Alicia Bianchieri, Agustin Losi, Luis Rojas, Juan Mayer, and Octavio Antich. Martin José Napal thanks funding from UNISAL PGI “La vulnerabilidad como fuente de otra institucionalidad económica” (Res. CS 05/2020). Maria Emma Santos thanks funding from CONICET PIP No. 11220150100659CO. We also thank two anonymous referees for very useful suggestions.


Santos, M.E., Napal, M.J. and Ramos, G. (2021), "The Covid-19 Crisis and Lockdown Measures: A Portrait from a Slum in Urban Argentina", Bandyopadhyay, S. (Ed.) Research on Economic Inequality: Poverty, Inequality and Shocks (Research on Economic Inequality, Vol. 29), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 269-295.



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