COVID-19 has brought about the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, bringing along dramatic effects on economy and society. The 2020 OECD “Risks that matter” study points out people’s worries: How do people in 25 OECD countries perceive social and economic risks? How well do they think their governments address those risks?
Like the “Risks that matter” study in conducted in 2018, a national representative sample of over 25,000 people aged 18-64 has been surveyed in the 25 OECD countries that agreed to participate: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the US. The survey has been conducted in September-October 2020, aiming to achieve a better understanding in what citizens want and need from social policy. “The long reach of Covid-19” – the report’s subtitle does already suggest the impact of this global health crisis on people’s worries.
While the world inches towards the end of the pandemic, the analysis points out the economic disruption and increasing worries about health and financial security. Although governments did invest massively in social protection during the crisis, in most OECD countries, people are looking for more public support to overcome the crisis. At the same time, they are willing to pay more taxes for better health systems, pensions, employment, and long-term care programmes.
During the COVID-19 crisis, a feeling of insecurity seems to profoundly mark people’s life. More than one-third of all respondents (37%) stated that their household suffered from at least one job-related disruption, defined as a job loss, a job lay-off, the use of job retention scheme, a reduction in work hours and/or a pay cut. The proportion is even higher among youths and parents with children at home. 68% of those people who experienced a job loss consequently had trouble paying bills, 81% of them said that they are somewhat or very concerned about their household’s overall financial, social and economic well-being in the next year or two.
As in 2018, people worry most about their health, making ends meet and their financial security at retirement age. However, in 2020, a larger share than before are worried about securing good-quality long-term care for themselves or for their elderly family members.
The distribution of vaccines proceeds, the end of the pandemic seems to come into view, but the feeling of economic insecurity seems to be marked deeply. For more details, the OECD report can be accessed here.