Fighting Inequality in the Time of Covid-19: The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020


The Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index aims to monitor government policies and actions towards the goal of reducing inequality. The first CRI Index report was published in 2017 by UK-based organisations Development Finance International and Oxfam International. Released in October 2020, this third edition focuses on the low public spending on healthcare, inadequate social protection for workers, and regressive taxation by governments, which left populations vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The report ranks 158 countries on their “commitment to reducing inequality”. It marks government policies across three categories: public services (health, education and social protection), taxation, and workers’ rights. The report states that the Covid-19 pandemic has tested the commitment to reducing inequality made by governments. It recommends that countries improve their efforts to promote public services spending, progressive taxation and workers’ rights in fulfilment of their ‘National Inequality Reduction Plans’– in keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 10) of reducing inequalities. 

The 66-page report is divided into four chapters: The impact of COVID-19 on commitment to fight inequality (chapter 1); The 2020 index results: fighting inequality through public services (chapter 2); Fighting inequality through tax policy (chapter 3); and Fighting inequality through labour rights and wages (chapter 4).


  1. The 2020 Index measures government actions across the pillars of public services, taxation, and workers’ rights using three indicators: policy commitment, coverage and implementation and impact indicators. It shows that a majority of the 158 countries were not prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic.

  2. The five countries ranked highest on the CRI Index (in descending order) are: Norway, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Finland. The lowest ranking country in the Index is South Sudan, followed by Nigeria, Bahrain, Chad and Liberia.

  3. India occupies the 129th place out of the 158 countries in the Index, ranking low in the indices on public services (141) and labour rights (151). However, the country ranks 19 in the taxation index. India ranks seven out of the eight South Asian countries studied.

  4. The five countries scoring highest in CRI’s public services index are Poland (1), Finland (2), France (3), Ireland (4) and Germany (5). The countries ranking lowest are Niger (154), Central African Republic (155), Nigeria (156), Chad (157) and South Sudan (158).

  5. In the CRI Index measuring progressive taxation and related policies, the countries ranking highest are South Africa (1), Togo (2), China (3), Georgia (4) and Djibouti (5). The lowest faring countries are St. Vincent and the Grenadines (154), South Sudan (155), Vanuatu (156), North Macedonia (157) and Bahrain (158).

  6. The countries ranking highest in the labour rights index are Norway (1), Denmark (2), Slovak Republic (3), Finland (4) and Slovenia (5). The countries with the lowest scores in this index are South Sudan (154), Ethiopia (155), Burundi (156), Central African Republic (157) and Nigeria (158).

  7. Out of the 158 countries studied, only 26 were spending ‘the recommended’ 15 per cent of their budget on health services – according to data up to 2019. India, the report notes, spent four per cent.

  8. In 103 countries, at least a third of the total workforce received no labour protection benefits such as sick pay.

  9. A majority of the countries ranking high on the 2020 CRI Index are members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) with higher gross domestic products, providing them a greater scope to collect and spend revenue on reducing inequalities.

  10. The report suggests that governments employ progressive taxation and increase taxes for the richest corporations and individuals in order to reduce inequality. Additionally, they should increase spending on public services and social protection.

  11. The CRI Index report highlights the need for better data collection and analysis for policies and their impact on inequality. This data must further be employed in forming more efficient measures.

  12. After the Covid-19 pandemic ends, countries are likely to employ austerity measures and reduce government spending. To prevent this, the report states, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must extend its current debts and provide debt cancellation measures. Furthermore, the report recommends that the international community introduce ‘solidarity taxes’ on income and wealth, part of which could go to lower-income countries.

    Focus and Factoids by Swadesha Sharma.


Development Finance International and Oxfam International, UK


Development Finance International and Oxfam International, UK


Oct, 2020