Editor: Rosalia Sciortino
Who Cares? This book presents research findings on the social protection response to the COVID-19 pandemic in six Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It comprises a regional overview and country-specific chapters, each of which narrates the unfolding of the pandemic, focusing on the economic impacts on different demographics and the social welfare programs that addressed those impacts. The details of each program reveal structurally entrenched limitations and biases, including privileges for civil servants and formal sector employees; inadequate or non-existent allowances for informal workers and migrants, or those considered outside the labor market; and the greater susceptibility to economic detriment among women and marginalized groups. Ultimately, the work highlights the paradox that the most socially deprived are disproportionately affected by crises such as the pandemic, yet they are also the least socially protected. As the title asks, “Who Cares?” about redressing this injustice.