The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered severe health and economic consequences, but a new study from two IUNI Advisory Council Members shows the negative effects are compounded for those who were already struggling economically prior to the outbreak.
Earlier this month, IUNI Advisory Council Members Bernice Pescosolido and Brea Perry (IUB Sociology) published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found the pandemic has widened the gap between the “haves” and “have nots.”
Black adults were three times as likely as white adults to report food insecurity, as well as being laid off or unemployed, during the pandemic. Those without a college degree were twice as likely to report food insecurity than those with some college. In one stunning contrast, people who reported not to have completed high school were four times more likely to experience food insecurity than those with a bachelor’s degree.
The study also found women typically struggled with food insecurity more than men and that younger people had more employment insecurity than older people.
In a recent Herald-Times article covering the study, Perry said, “One of the big take-home points is that these findings provide additional evidence that when there’s some sort of crisis — whether economic, a natural disaster, human made — these exacerbate inequalities.
“They reflect the societal fault lines that were there before and tend to make them worse,” she continued.
Perry and Pescosolido conducted the phone study by following up with participants from their Person to Person Study, which had been conducted with Indiana residents prior to and at the start of the pandemic. This allowed the researchers to compare respondents’ livelihoods before and during the pandemic. The 20-minute survey had a 70 percent response rate.
The researchers are planning to follow up on their study to investigate the long-term health effects of COVID-19, such as chronic stress from ongoing economic insecurity. Perry and Pescosolido are also interested in understanding how respondents leaned into informal safety nets in their social networks to get through the pandemic.
- Read the initial study, “Pandemic precarity: COVID-19 is exposing and exacerbating inequalities in the American heartland,” from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here.
- Read The Herald-Times coverage of the study here.
- Read the report on the study from IU Research Impact here.
- Read the recent coverage in the Indiana Daily Student here.