Covid-19 and inequalities

Document type
Blundell, Richard; Joyce, Robert; Costa Dias, Monica
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
11 June 2020
Social Policy, Employment, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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Much of the debate about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, our responses to it, and the longer-term legacy that it will leave has quickly become a discussion about various forms of inequality. The purpose of this report is to bring together what has emerged so far about the impacts of the crisis on inequalities across several key domains of life and, in doing so, to make a few overarching points.

Key findings:

  • The years leading up to the COVID-19 crisis, and in particular the long hangover from the last economic crisis of the late 2000s, had left households in a precarious position.
  • The specific nature of the economic shock associated with COVID-19 has interacted with many old and deep inequalities.
  • About 30% of low-income households pre-crisis said that they could not manage a month if they were to lose their main source of household income. They spend a high fraction of their budgets on necessities that are hard to scale back.

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