3 questions to… Antoine Marsaudon, Paul Dourgnon, Florence Jusot and Jérôme Wittwer , following the publication of the Issues in Health Economics (253), December 2020: "What Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Lockdown Policies on Undocumented Immigrants in France?"
The first analyses carried out by public statistics and public health research show that immigrants are particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Both in terms of excess mortality and prevalence, i.e. the onset of the disease, their results point to significant differences to their disadvantage. According to studies by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE, Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques) and the French Institute of Public Health Research (IRESP, Institut de recherche en santé publique), the number of deaths recorded between March and April 2020 increased by 48% for people born abroad, compared with 22% for people born in France. These differences in mortality are accentuated according to the geographical origin of the person: + 114% for people born in sub-Saharan Africa, + 91% for people born in Asia and + 54% for those born in North Africa. Prevalence analyses confirm these disparities and also show that the differences in prevalence between immigrants and natives are corelated with differences in living conditions, socio-economic status and housing. The "Premiers Pas" survey, carried out in 2019, highlights the particularly difficult living conditions of undocumented immigrants.
The risk of developing a serious form of the disease is associated with certain health problems. These problems are not distributed in the same way among undocumented immigrants as among the rest of the resident population. Our analyses show that at the same age structure as the general population, undocumented women under the age of 50 are particularly at risk, mainly because of more frequent cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and obesity. The situation is more contrasted among men under 50: with a comparable age structure, they suffer more frequently from cardiovascular diseases, but have a lower risk of having asthma or diabetes.
Before the Covid-19 crisis, undocumented immigrants were already facing many precarious situations, in particular economic, food and housing insecurity. Among the undocumented immigrants who are employed, many belong to sectors that are particularly affected by the lockdown, such as the hotel and restaurant industry and certain manual trades. Informal work, which is naturally less protected by law, is particularly at risk of job or income loss. Finally, some organizations providing services to foreigners have had to restrict their opening hours or reduce the number of staff, both salaried and volunteer.