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Rebuilding Social Trust in Post-COVID America

Lack of trust has been a critical barrier to US economic policy in recent years, because the solutions to the country's main problems all require some degree of redistribution. But Americans' shared sacrifices during the pandemic have created a unique opportunity to make much-needed progress.

CHICAGO – At first glance, the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic divisions within the United States. It has magnified income and social inequality, and highlighted many longstanding systemic problems.

For example, women are more adversely affected than men. Children from poor households are less able to adapt to virtual schooling than those from wealthier families. Experts think that domestic violence and child abuse have risen rapidly during the pandemic, but much of the increase has gone unreported because of the reduction in monitoring due to school closures. Lower-income individuals face higher health risks because many of the factors that worsen COVID-19 consequences are negatively associated with income.

But, despite these painful and unevenly distributed costs, could America’s trial by fire during the pandemic help to restore the mutual trust needed to improve the economic well-being of all Americans in the long run?

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