IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on single-person households in South Korea


  • Jung, Haeil
  • Kim, Jun Hyung
  • Hong, Gihyeon


Using nationally representative income and expenditure data from South Korea, we show that single-person households suffered a much greater decrease in household income and expenditure compared to multi-persons households during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Negative effects on income were largest for the single-person households in ages 50—64, mostly driven by decreases in earned income rather than business income. There was no corresponding decrease in consumption expenditures, however, other than on transportation expenditure for young men. Notably, there were significant decreases in non-consumption expenditures that are related to formal and informal consumption-smoothing mechanisms, such as spending on insurances, pensions, and household transfers. Our findings highlight the disproportionately negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the middle-aged single-person households. With reduced spending on consumption-smoothing mechanisms, this group is likely to be even more vulnerable to negative income shocks in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Jung, Haeil & Kim, Jun Hyung & Hong, Gihyeon, 2023. "Impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on single-person households in South Korea," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:84:y:2023:i:c:s1049007822001130
    DOI: 10.1016/j.asieco.2022.101557

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cheolsung Park, 2014. "Why do children transfer to their parents? Evidence from South Korea," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 461-485, September.
    2. Adam Sheridan & Asger Lau Andersen & Emil Toft Hansen & Niels Johannesen, 2020. "Social distancing laws cause only small losses of economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scandinavia," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(34), pages 20468-20473, August.
    3. Dossche, Maarten & Zlatanos, Stylianos, 2020. "COVID-19 and the increase in household savings: precautionary or forced?," Economic Bulletin Boxes, European Central Bank, vol. 6.
    4. Michèle Belot & Syngjoo Choi & Egon Tripodi & Eline van den Broek-Altenburg & Julian C. Jamison & Nicholas W. Papageorge, 2021. "Unequal consequences of Covid 19: representative evidence from six countries," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 769-783, September.
    5. Shin, Jinwook & Kim, Seonghoon & Koh, Kanghyock, 2021. "Economic impact of targeted government responses to COVID-19: Evidence from the large-scale clusters in Seoul," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 199-221.
    6. Aum, Sangmin & Lee, Sang Yoon (Tim) & Shin, Yongseok, 2021. "COVID-19 doesn’t need lockdowns to destroy jobs: The effect of local outbreaks in Korea," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    7. Adams-Prassl, Abi & Boneva, Teodora & Golin, Marta & Rauh, Christopher, 2020. "Inequality in the impact of the coronavirus shock: Evidence from real time surveys," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    8. Hanghun Jo & Eunha Shin & Heungsoon Kim, 2020. "Changes in Consumer Behaviour in the Post-COVID-19 Era in Seoul, South Korea," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(1), pages 1-16, December.
    9. Lee, Jongkwan & Yang, Hee-Seung, 2022. "Pandemic and employment: Evidence from COVID-19 in South Korea," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    10. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2012. "Recent Developments in the Economics of Time Use," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 373-397, July.
    11. Lee, Bun Song & Jang, Soomyung & Sarkar, Jayanta, 2008. "Women's labor force participation and marriage: The case of Korea," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 138-154, April.
    12. Ortigueira, Salvador & Siassi, Nawid, 2013. "How important is intra-household risk sharing for savings and labor supply?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 650-666.
    13. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Spivak, Avia, 1981. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 372-391, April.
    14. Adams-Prassl, A. & Boneva, T. & Golin, M & Rauh, C., 2020. "Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock: New Survey Evidence for the UK," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2023, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    15. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2021. "Is the selfish life-cycle model more applicable in Japan and, if so, why? A literature survey," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 157-187, March.
    16. Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez & Gerardo Esquivel, 2021. "Consumption and geographic mobility in pandemic times. Evidence from Mexico," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 353-371, June.
    17. Suphanit Piyapromdee & Peter Spittal, 2020. "The Income and Consumption Effects of COVID‐19 and the Role of Public Policy," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(4), pages 805-827, December.
    18. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    19. Han, Jong-Suk & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2020. "Demographic change, human capital, and economic growth in Korea," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C).
    20. Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Viet Nguyen, Cuong, 2021. "Gender inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic: Income, expenditure, savings, and job loss," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    21. Moon Jung Kim & Soohyung Lee, 2021. "Can Stimulus Checks Boost an Economy Under Covid-19? Evidence from South Korea," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-12, January.
    22. Haomin Wang, 2019. "Intra-Household Risk Sharing and Job Search over the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 34, pages 165-182, October.
    23. Crossley, Thomas F. & Fisher, Paul & Low, Hamish, 2021. "The heterogeneous and regressive consequences of COVID-19: Evidence from high quality panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    24. Aaberge, Rolf & Melby, Ingrid, 1998. "The Sensitivity of Income Inequality to Choice of Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(4), pages 565-569, December.
    25. Landais, Camille & Bounie, David & Camara, Youssouf & Fize, Etienne & Galbraith, John W. & Lavest, Chloe & Pazem, Tatiana & Savatier, Baptiste, 2020. "Consumption Dynamics in the COVID Crisis: Real Time Insights from French Transaction & Bank Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 15474, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    26. Seonghoon Kim & Kanghyock Koh & Xuan Zhang, 2022. "Short‐term impact of COVID‐19 on consumption spending and its underlying mechanisms: Evidence from Singapore," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(S1), pages 115-134, February.
    27. Rolf Aaberge & Ingrid Melby, 1998. "The Sensitivity Of Income Inequality To Choice Of Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(4), pages 565-569, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Khadija Ashraf & Kangjae Lee & Geunhan Kim & Jeon-Young Kang, 2024. "Sales in Commercial Alleys and Their Association with Air Pollution: Case Study in South Korea," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 16(2), pages 1-19, January.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Hodbod, Alexander & Hommes, Cars & Huber, Stefanie J. & Salle, Isabelle, 2021. "The COVID-19 consumption game-changer: Evidence from a large-scale multi-country survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    2. Irene Y. H. Ng & Zhi Han Tan & Vincent Chua & Annie Cheong, 2022. "Separate Lives, Uncertain Futures: Does Covid-19 Align or Differentiate the Lives of Low- and Higher-Wage Young Workers?," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 17(6), pages 3349-3380, December.
    3. Liang, Xiao & Rozelle, Scott & Yi, Hongmei, 2022. "The impact of COVID-19 on employment and income of vocational graduates in China: Evidence from surveys in January and July 2020," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    4. Thomas F Crossley & Paul Fisher & Hamish Low & Peter Levell, 2023. "A year of COVID: the evolution of labour market and financial inequalities through the crisis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 589-612.
    5. Tabakis,Chrysostomos & Ten,Gi Khan & Merfeld,Joshua David & Newhouse,David Locke & Pape,Utz Johann & Weber,Michael, 2022. "The Welfare Implications of COVID-19 for Fragile and Conflict-Affected Areas," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10081, The World Bank.
    6. Hai-Anh Dang & Toan L.D. Huynh & Manh-Hung Nguyen, 2023. "Does the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affect the poor? Evidence from a six-country survey," Journal of Economics and Development, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 26(1), pages 2-18, December.
    7. Abi Adams‐Prassl & Teodora Boneva & Marta Golin & Christopher Rauh, 2020. "Furloughing," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(3), pages 591-622, September.
    8. Stefanie Huber, 2022. "SHE canÕt afford it and HE doesnÕt want it: The gender gap in the COVID-19 consumption response," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 22-029/II, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Piluca Alvargonzález & Marina Gómez & Carmen Martínez-Carrascal & Myroslav Pidkuyko & Ernesto Villanueva, 2022. "Analysis of labor flows and consumption in Spain during COVID-19," Occasional Papers 2202, Banco de España.
    10. Adermon, Adrian & Laun, Lisa & Lind, Patrik & Olsson, Martin & Sauermann, Jan & Sjögren , Anna, 2022. "Earnings losses and the role of the welfare state during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 2022:20, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    11. Fukai, Taiyo & Ikeda, Masato & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Yamaguchi, Shintaro, 2023. "COVID-19 and the employment gender gap in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    12. Andrew E. Clark & Conchita D’Ambrosio & Anthony Lepinteur, 2021. "The fall in income inequality during COVID-19 in four European countries," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 19(3), pages 489-507, September.
    13. Andrew E. Clark & Anthony Lepinteur, 2022. "Pandemic Policy and Life Satisfaction in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 68(2), pages 393-408, June.
    14. Giuseppe Bertola & Anna Lo Prete,, 2023. "Financial Literacy and Risk Protection During the Covid-19 Pandemic," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 202325, University of Turin.
    15. Narayan,Ambar & Cojocaru,Alexandru & Agrawal,Sarthak & Bundervoet,Tom & Davalos,Maria Eugenia & Garcia,Natalia & Lakner,Christoph & Mahler,Daniel Gerszon & Montalva Talledo,Veronica Sonia & Ten,Andrey, 2022. "COVID-19 and Economic Inequality : Short-Term Impacts with Long-Term Consequences," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9902, The World Bank.
    16. Zimpelmann, Christian & Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & Holler, Radost & Janys, Lena & Siflinger, Bettina, 2021. "Hours and income dynamics during the Covid-19 pandemic: The case of the Netherlands," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    17. Alessandra Casarico & Salvatore Lattanzio, 2022. "The heterogeneous effects of COVID-19 on labor market flows: evidence from administrative data," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 20(3), pages 537-558, September.
    18. Freund, Richard & Favara, Marta & Porter, Catherine & Scott, Douglas & Thuc, Duc Le, 2022. "The Mental Cost of Job Loss: Assessing the Impact on Young Adults in Vietnam," IZA Discussion Papers 15522, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Titan Alon & Sena Coskun & Matthias Doepke & David Koll & Michèle Tertilt, 2022. "From Mancession to Shecession: Women’s Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 83-151.
    20. Kugler, Maurice & Viollaz, Mariana & Duque, Daniel & Gaddis, Isis & Newhouse, David & Palacios-Lopez, Amparo & Weber, Michael, 2023. "How did the COVID-19 crisis affect different types of workers in the developing world?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 170(C).

    More about this item


    COVID-19; Single-person households; Income; Consumption; Informal insurance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:84:y:2023:i:c:s1049007822001130. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.