The largest cash transfer scale-up ever mirrors global inequalities.
The United States’ CARES act stimulus checks sent out after the start of the pandemic were a historic milestone, reaching over 80 percent of Americans and helping move millions of people at least temporarily out of poverty. But the US was far from the only country to quickly give people money in response to the pandemic. Almost every country in the world had some sort of Covid-19 cash aid program, from tiny programs reaching fewer than 1,000 people in places like Belgium and Gabon to massive initiatives in countries like India and Japan.
An estimated 1.36 billion people — over 16 percent of the global population — received some sort of cash-based Covid-19 relief in the largest rollout of cash transfers in history, as governments worked to deploy vital social support in record time, according to a World Bank report released earlier this month.