The surging numbers are sobering, but COVID-19 has indirectly impacted far more than those counted among cases and deaths. Looking to capture these impacts even beyond official data on unemployment, business closures, and other routine economic indicators, a team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Department of Economics and School of Public Policy, and from Indiana University’s School of Social Work is studying how U.S. households have been altered by the ongoing pandemic.
The study, “Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 in US Households,” utilizes an extensive national online survey to explore the profound direct and indirect impacts of households’ financial, physical, and mental health, as well as effects of school and daycare disruptions, have had on their work and family lives. The survey also includes a section on changes in work productivity and the challenges that business owners are experiencing.
“It felt really important to get these measures while they were timely,” said Madeline Leue, a member of the research team. “We’re at the beginning of an unstudied chapter of American history. We wanted to take a look at how people were being affected and how that varied by gender and race and socioeconomic factors.”
Broad survey dissemination efforts are allowing data collection among all ethnic groups, especially minorities who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis and its socioeconomic fallouts. Results will be both reported nationally and broken down for each state. Data for Massachusetts will be available also at the county level.
The research team seeks collaborations with local government leaders to expand the distribution of the survey and welcomes the opportunity to share their results with public officials. Those interested in partnerships to leverage this research can contact Dr. Marta Vicarelli, the researcher leading the study, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We hope that the outcomes of our investigation will provide policy recommendations for contingency plans and resilience plans,” said Vicarelli. “The resources we rely on in terms of socioeconomic risk analysis and mitigation strategies are often from a pre-COVID world. Policy guidelines do not always align with the current conditions. In order to develop effective policies in response to this crisis, it is imperative to collect new data and to do it fast.”