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Data: Institute for Business in the Global Context at Tufts University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

While countries with larger shares of their populations able to work remotely have generally fared better economically throughout the pandemic, there are clear outliers.

The big picture: A smooth transition to telecommuting is just one part of pandemic-era economic health. Factors like infection rates and lockdown measures have had massive impacts as well.

Consider the U.K., where 59% of the workforce can work from home but quarterly GDP growth dropped nearly 22% between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020.

  • "The U.K.'s unfortunate economic state matches the deadly impact of the virus," says Bhaskar Chakravorti, who is dean of global business at Tufts University and has been studying countries' economic resilience. "More people died in the U.K. than anywhere else in Europe."
  • On top of that, the U.K. is disproportionately reliant on the services sector, which has been walloped by the pandemic. More than 10% of its GDP counts on travel and tourism, and the services sector as a whole makes up around three-quarters of the U.K. economy, Chakravorti notes.

What plagued the U.K.'s economy was reflected across Europe, with France and Spain suffering big losses despite having large shares of workers able to telecommute.

The U.S. has fared relatively well — and better than peer nations like the U.K., Canada or Japan — because of its diversified and digitally enabled economy, says Chakravorti. "Even though the U.S. did miserably in terms of COVID management, the economic impact is cushioned by other factors."

The other side: Some of the countries on the lower end of remote work capability, like Indonesia and Turkey, had a tough 2019 to begin with, so their contraction in 2020 looked relatively better.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: The future of financial inclusion

On Thursday, January 28, Axios' Dan Primack hosted a conversation on financial inclusion in the global economy, featuring Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Institute for Women's Policy Research CEO C. Nicole Mason.

Sen. Tina Smith discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, uneven access to technology, and the role of systemic racism in growing economic inequities.

  • On what she thinks will be the most effective way to move the needle on financial equity: "Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour...is one of the biggest things that we can do to address the wage inequality and savings potential for people of color in this country."
  • On Democrats' economic goals going into the new administration: "Addressing this kind of discrimination in financial services and creating more opportunities for people of color to get access to banking services, loans, access to capital is a big priority for us as [Democrats] move into the majority."

C. Nicole Mason discussed how job losses during the pandemic reflect existing gender and racial inequities, as well as the disproportionate burden of childcare on women.

  • On the scale of job losses for women: "Since the start of the pandemic, women have exited the workforce at four times the rate of men, so about 11 million women since the start of the pandemic have lost their jobs or exited the workforce."
  • On childcare as an equity issue: "With the pandemic, the burden [of childcare] doubled and tripled...We need a national childcare infrastructure where we keep up childcare as a public good and people can access it regardless of their income or ability."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Europe, Visa Charlotte Hogg, who discussed digital and financial inclusion as a component of economic equity during the pandemic.

  • "We have to think about inclusion as being digitally, financially included. [From] small businesses who are increasingly important in driving towards a more inclusive recovery and who need to be digitally enabled to participate in that, [to] consumers who for various reasons may be vulnerable."

Thank you Visa for sponsoring this event.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

"Be first, be right, be credible" is the mantra of public health experts in a crisis. It's difficult to argue that the health community has regularly managed to be any of those three during COVID-19.

Why it matters: A pandemic isn't just a medical emergency — it's also a communications emergency. The U.S. public health establishment, hamstrung by bad data and political interference, has struggled with the latter.

How Hertz is fighting to stay relevant

A Hertz car rental counter in the Miami International Airport. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In the span of less than a week, Hertz has made three big strategic moves intended to keep the car rental giant from fading into oblivion.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing and other mobility innovations are rapidly changing the way people get from A to B, posing an existential threat to traditional car rental services.