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The Income and Consumption Effects of Covid-19 and the Role of Public Policy

Author

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  • Suphanit Piyapromdee

    (University College London)

  • Peter Spittal

    (University College London)

Abstract

This paper provides empirical evidence on how the labour market impacts of the covid19 pandemic vary across workers' incomes, assets, characteristics and household structures in the UK. Using data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we find that less educated and young workers are most likely to be laid-off. This is particularly the case for females. Moreover, less educated workers tend to have low income and low assets, limiting their ability to maintain consumption in the face of reduced income. This is compounded at the household level by assortative partnering between workers with similar education levels. We analyse the source of these inequalities by relating employment outcomes to factors related occupational and industrial characteristics. We then conduct a quantitative assessment of the likely impact of covid-19 on households' consumption and find that, because the adverse labour market impacts are concentrated on workers with low income and low assets, 70 percent of households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution cannot maintain their usual expenditure for even one week. Finally, we consider the effectiveness and distributional implications of two different policy interventions: the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in the UK and Economic Impact Payments in the US. Our findings suggest that both policies can alleviate the increase in consumption inequality that would have otherwise arisen during the pandemic. In the short term, the US-style one-off payment is most effective at providing affected households with the means to smooth consumption. However, the CJRS provides better insurance against prolonged disruption as the program provides continuous income support.

Suggested Citation

  • Suphanit Piyapromdee & Peter Spittal, 2020. "The Income and Consumption Effects of Covid-19 and the Role of Public Policy," PIER Discussion Papers 141, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Jun 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:pui:dpaper:141
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Warn N. Lekfuangfu & Suphanit Piyapromdee & Ponpoje Porapakkarm & Nada Wasi, 2020. "On Covid-19: New Implications of Job Task Requirements and Spouse's Occupational Sorting," PIER Discussion Papers 133, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Apr 2020.
    2. Orazio Attanasio & Gabriella Berloffa & Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 2002. "From Earnings Inequality to Consumption Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 52-59, March.
    3. R Maria del Rio-Chanona & Penny Mealy & Anton Pichler & François Lafond & J Doyne Farmer, 2020. "Supply and demand shocks in the COVID-19 pandemic: an industry and occupation perspective," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages 94-137.
    4. Mike Brewer & Ben Etheridge & Cormac O’Dea, 2017. "Why are Households that Report the Lowest Incomes So Well‐off?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(605), pages 24-49, October.
    5. Mike Brewer & Ben Etheridge & Cormac O’Dea, 2017. "Why are Households that Report the Lowest Incomes So Well‐off?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(605), pages 24-49, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Abi Adams‐Prassl & Teodora Boneva & Marta Golin & Christopher Rauh, 2020. "Furloughing," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(3), pages 591-622, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Covid-19; Consumption; Income; and Mitigation Policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance

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