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Economic and distributional impact of COVID-19: Evidence from macro-micro modelling of the South African economy

A computable general equilibrium model linked to a microsimulation model is applied to assess the potential short-term effects on the South African economy of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With a particular focus on distributional outcomes, two simulations are run, a mild and a severe scenario. The findings show significant evidence of decline in economic growth and employment, with the decline harsher for the severe scenario. The microeconomic results show that the pandemic moves the income distribution curve such that more households fall under the poverty line while at the same time, inequality declines. The latter result is driven by the disproportionate decline in incomes of richer households while the poorest of the poor are cushioned by government social grants that are kept intact during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding and its economic modelling as well as the data used to operationalise the model will need to be updated and improved upon as more information about the disease and the economy becomes available.

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