The idiosyncratic impact of an aggregate shock: the distributional consequences of COVID-19

Document type
Working Paper
Benzeval, Michaela; Burton, Jon; Crossley, Thomas
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
4 June 2020
IFS Working Paper; W20/15
Social Policy, Employment, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

Download (483KB )

Using new data from the Understanding Society: COVID 19 survey collected in April 2020, this paper shows how the aggregate shock caused by the pandemic affects individuals across the distribution. The survey collects data from existing members of the Understanding Society panel survey who have been followed for up to 10 years. Understanding society is based on probability samples and the Understanding Society Covid19 Survey is carefully constructed to support valid population inferences. Further the panel allows comparisons with a pre-pandemic baseline. This paper documents how the shock of the pandemic translates into different economic shocks for different types of worker: those with less education and precarious employment face the biggest economic shocks. Some of those affected are able to mitigate the impact of the economic shocks: universal credit protects those in the bottom quintile, for example.


More from Social welfare collection

Related to Social Policy

Leaving no one behind: ILC briefing on the coronavirus support package for the self-employed

Briefing on the coronavirus support package for the self-employed

Workers' rights are human rights

This paper sets out the case for treating human rights as workers’ rights and urges the adoption of consistent definitions for those rights.It argues that human rights are a powerful tool for

Employing younger workers

This guide goes through the steps an employer, a line manager, and anyone in a supporting role should consider when employing a younger worker.While the guidance may contain useful considerations

More items related to this subject