Researchers report how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased socioeconomic inequality in the United States.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009 exacerbated socioeconomic inequities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities and those without college degrees.
Given the high unemployment levels reported during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is concern about the pandemic’s potential to similarly widen socioeconomic inequality.
Bernice Pescosolido and colleagues used data from a representative survey of nearly 1000 Indiana residents, conducted before and during the pandemic, to assess the pandemic’s impact on economic precarity.
The authors measured four self-reported indicators of economic precarity: housing insecurity, food insecurity, general financial insecurity, and unemployment or job loss.
After controlling for pre-pandemic status, Black respondents reported significantly higher rates of food and financial insecurity and unemployment due to the pandemic than White respondents.
Respondents without a college degree reported significantly higher rates of all economic precarity measures than respondents with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Women were more likely to report housing and financial insecurity than men, while younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to report food and financial insecurity and unemployment.
The results are consistent with the aftermath of other disasters, suggesting that vulnerable groups disproportionately bear the burden of such disasters, leading to long-term inequalities, according to the authors.