Poverty, Policy and Pandemics

Honors College scholar Ryan Huynh, a computer science and statistics major, is featured in the Spring 2021 edition of The Undergraduate Journal of Politics, Policy and Society (UJPPS). The journal covers statistical, political, sociological and international issues caused by or related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and features work from universities around the globe.

Portrait of Ryan Huynh

Ryan Huynh’s paper “Pushed Back into Poverty: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Global Poor,” was published in The Undergraduate Journal of Politics, Policy and Society.

Published by the University of Ottawa, the journal also includes student papers from the University of Sydney, Bishop’s University in Québec, the University of Southern California and the University of Adelaide.

Huynh’s paper, “Pushed Back into Poverty: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Global Poor,” covers the economic effects of the pandemic on the world’s most vulnerable people in relation to the United Nations’. The goals themselves are benchmarks designed by the U.N. and are “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

Huynh was inspired to write the paper when the University of Ottawa called for student papers on the pandemic’s effect on global society. As a scholar at the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development, Huynh had one topic in mind.

“Me personally, I thought [the pandemic’s impact on the global poor] was a really important topic,” Huynh says.

Huynh’s paper is 25 pages long, not including the five-page bibliography. Through his research, he studied the effects of the pandemic in developing countries, including food supply and extreme poverty. Using his expertise as a statistics major, he extrapolated what the change in numbers meant for the world’s most vulnerable.

“What really surprised me was the severity,” Huynh says. “Extreme poverty has been getting better for the past 20-ish years, but because of COVID-19, that trend has reversed drastically. The scale and the intensity of that change was really surprising.”

Huynh praises the research opportunities available to him at the nation’s first honors college.

“The MU Honors College is definitely an organization that supports research and going beyond what’s normally expected of students,” Huynh says. “It’s outside of what you would do in a typical class.”

Huynh hopes his paper brings to light the struggles in developing countries that, in his opinion, have been largely ignored by the U.S.

“I hope more people will at least understand the paper and get the gist of how COVID-19 is impacting those in other countries,” Huynh says. “If people are willing and able, they can go out and donate to some organizations that are working to fight the pandemic and reduce extreme poverty.”