Politics, Pandemics, and Pariahs: Age Discrimination and CoVid19 Exit Strategies

9 Pages Posted: 22 May 2020

See all articles by Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Institute of World Politics; International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto; Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc.

Date Written: May 22, 2020


Special Co-Vid 19 responses have been targeted to the elderly (of whatever age cut-off a politician designates) on the basis that age, itself, constitutes and a unique vulnerability to the disease. This Essay challenges that assumption on the basis of newer epidemiological evidence which I introduce

Targeting the aged for more stringent restrictions on the basis of outdated or irrelevant data serves as the basis for unwitting and unwarranting discrimination. I urge that actions proscribed for this group, e.g., continued isolation, will further compound mental health issues and loneliness to which this group is otherwise susceptible - i.e., the prescription may be worse than the disease.

I also caution policy-makers that targeting any segment of the population for particular response can used be a cover for politically-motivated aims and must be carefully evaluated for covert discrimination. Further, early reports, especially those that are locality driven should be re-evaluated as an epidemic progresses to determine if those reports are indeed relevant and applicable outside a limited area or venue.

In the case of age-related directives, susceptibility to serious consequences of CoVid-9 may be a function of co-morbidities (also experienced by those of other groups, such as the poor), sex , the venue of exposure, or the health system of a particular country. Here, even the power of suggestion of vulnerability can impact on survival and hardiness.

Keywords: co-vid 19, exit strategies, public health response, public health policy, vulnerable, susceptible, aged, elderly, agesism, discrimination, political, economic

JEL Classification: I 1, I10, I12, I14, I18, I31, K42, K32

Suggested Citation

Billauer, Barbara P., Politics, Pandemics, and Pariahs: Age Discrimination and CoVid19 Exit Strategies (May 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3607888 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3607888

Barbara P. Billauer (Contact Author)

Institute of World Politics ( email )

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International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto ( email )

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Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc. ( email )

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