June 2020

IZA DP No. 13366: Unequal Consequences of COVID-19 across Age and Income: Representative Evidence from Six Countries

Michèle Belot, Syngjoo Choi, Egon Tripodi, Eline van den Broek-Altenburg, Julian C. Jamison, Nicholas W. Papageorge

Covid-19 and the measures taken to contain it have led to unprecedented constraints on work and leisure activities, across the world. This paper uses nationally representative surveys to document how people of different ages and incomes have been affected across six countries (China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, UK and US). We first document changes in income/work and leisure. Second, we document self-reported negative and positive non-financial effects of the crisis. We then examine attitudes towards recommendations (wearing a mask in particular) and the approach taken by public authorities. We find similarities across countries in how people of different generations have been affected. Young people have experienced more drastic changes to their lives, and overall they are less supportive of these measures. These patterns are less clear across income groups: while some countries have managed to shield lower income individuals from negative consequences, others have not. We also show that how people have been affected by the crisis (positively or negatively) does little to explain whether or not they support measures implemented by the public authorities. Young people are overall less supportive of such measures independently of how they have been affected.