Using nationally representative income and expenditure data from South Korea, we show that single-person households suffered a much greater decrease in household income and expenditure compared to multi-persons households during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Negative effects on income were largest for the single-person households in ages 50—64, mostly driven by decreases in earned income rather than business income. There was no corresponding decrease in consumption expenditures, however, other than on transportation expenditure for young men. Notably, there were significant decreases in non-consumption expenditures that are related to formal and informal consumption-smoothing mechanisms, such as spending on insurances, pensions, and household transfers. Our findings highlight the disproportionately negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the middle-aged single-person households. With reduced spending on consumption-smoothing mechanisms, this group is likely to be even more vulnerable to negative income shocks in the future.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Haeil Jung acknowledges that this work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea ( NRF-2016S1A3A2924956 ). Jun Hyung Kim acknowledges support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 72150410443 ).
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.
- Informal insurance
- Single-person households
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics