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Fear of COVID-19 Contagion and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Italian Households



Using data from a new survey of 3,000 Italian households collected at the end of October 2020, we study the effect of fear of COVID-19 contagion and income risk on consumption. The survey elicits individual-level indicators of fear of contagion, distinguishing between worries while working, shopping, traveling, eating out and meeting relatives or friends, and indicators of changes in spending behavior after the pandemics. The probabilities of consumption drops and increased saving are positively associated to fear of contagion, particularly while shopping, traveling and eating out. Income uncertainty, measured by the probability of job loss, also contributes to explain the increase in saving and the drop in consumption. Our findings suggest that fear of contagion and income uncertainty limits the effectiveness of policies aimed at stimulating consumption during the pandemic.

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  • Giovanni Immordino & Tullio Jappelli & Tommaso Oliviero & Alberto Zazzaro, 2021. "Fear of COVID-19 Contagion and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Italian Households," CSEF Working Papers 601, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:601

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Michael Weber, 2020. "How Did U.S. Consumers Use Their Stimulus Payments?," Working Papers 2020-109, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
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    4. Goolsbee, Austan & Syverson, Chad, 2021. "Fear, lockdown, and diversion: Comparing drivers of pandemic economic decline 2020," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    5. Jappelli, Tullio & Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Kenny, Geoff, 2020. "The Covid-19 Crisis and Consumption: Survey Evidence from Six EU Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 15525, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Miguel Godinho de Matos & Francisco Lima & Sergio Rebelo & Mathias Trabandt, 2020. "Expectations, Infections, and Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 27988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Olivier Coibion & Dimitris Georgarakos & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Geoff Kenny & Michael Weber, 2024. "The Effect of Macroeconomic Uncertainty on Household Spending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 114(3), pages 645-677, March.
    8. Antonio Filippin, 2022. "Gender differences in risk attitudes," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 100-100, October.
    9. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3138-3160, November.
    10. Pedro Bordalo & Katherine B. Coffman & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2020. "Older People are Less Pessimistic about the Health Risks of Covid-19," NBER Working Papers 27494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiara Sotis & Miriam Allena & Renny Reyes & Alessandro Romano, 2021. "COVID-19 Vaccine Passport and International Traveling: The Combined Effect of Two Nudges on Americans’ Support for the Pass," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(16), pages 1-17, August.
    2. Junichi Kikuchi & Ryoya Nagao & Yoshiyuki Nakazono, 2021. "Fear of COVID-19 Contagion: The Idiosyncratic Effects of an Aggregate Pandemic Shock," ISER Discussion Paper 1144, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    3. Elisa Guglielminetti & Concetta Rondinelli, 2021. "Consumption and saving patterns in Italy during Covid-19," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 620, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Kleimeier, Stefanie & Hoffmann, Arvid O.I. & Broihanne, Marie-Hélène & Plotkina, Daria & Göritz, Anja S., 2023. "Determinants of individuals’ objective and subjective financial fragility during the COVID-19 pandemic," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    5. Giovanni Immordino & Tullio Jappelli & Tommaso Oliviero, 2024. "Consumption and income expectations during Covid-19," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 95-116, March.
    6. Kikuchi, Junichi & Nagao, Ryoya & Nakazono, Yoshiyuki, 2023. "Expenditure responses to the COVID-19 pandemic," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    7. Schiopu, Andreea Fortuna & Hornoiu, Remus Ion & Padurean, Ana Mihaela & Nica, Ana-Maria, 2022. "Constrained and virtually traveling? Exploring the effect of travel constraints on intention to use virtual reality in tourism," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    8. Naoki Tani, 2023. "True Impact of Japan's Covid State of Emergency on Consumption," KIER Working Papers 1092, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    9. Byungjin Park & Joonmo Cho, 2023. "COVID-19 and Age Disparity in Credit Card Expenditures in Korea: Implications on the Government Relief Fund," SAGE Open, , vol. 13(4), pages 21582440231, December.
    10. Giuseppe Rose & Desiré De Luca, 2024. "Health Concerns And Consumption Expectations During Covid-19: Evidence From A Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 202401, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    11. Ragnar Enger Juelsrud & Ella Getz Wold, 2023. "The importance of unemployment risk for individual savings," Working Papers 06/2023, Centre for Household Finance and Macroeconomic Research (HOFIMAR), BI Norwegian Business School.
    12. A.C. Pinate & A. Faggian & M.G. Brandano, 2023. "The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in Italy: a regional spatial perspective," Working Paper CRENoS 202309, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.

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    More about this item


    COVID-19; Consumption; Precautionary Saving; Fear of Contagion.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D15 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving

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