April 2021

IZA DP No. 14273: Job Loss and Food Insecurity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nutritious eating habits contribute to a stronger immune system necessary for prevention and easier recovery from illnesses. A job loss, experienced by millions of Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic, is expected to negatively affect food security of families. This research explores the effect of a recent job loss during the Covid-19 crisis on food sufficiency. The findings suggest that a job loss in the family is associated with greater food insecurity, reduced likelihood that a family has a sufficient amount of food, and deteriorated child nutrition. There is also a differential effect between currently employed and unemployed job losers, with the latter group being more adversely affected. The negative effect is primarily driven by Hispanic and low-educated individuals. These results have policy implications in the context of identifying vulnerable groups that are most likely to benefit from programs designed to provide sufficient nutrition to the population.