Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

Families & households

How might coronavirus affect older workers?

Recent years have seen considerable efforts to encourage older people to stay in the labour market for longer. With the health risks from Covid-19 rising with age, the pandemic and the economic downturn may affect both their ability and desire to do so.

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How has lockdown affected children with special educational needs?

Children with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly vulnerable to the sweeping changes that have accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular the closure of schools and cutbacks on additional support services during lockdown.

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Should we stop using predicted A-level grades in university applications?

This year’s exam chaos highlights a big issue with predicting A-level results. The evidence suggests that teachers typically over-predict, and some school students’ grades are harder to predict than others. This raises the question of why we continue to base university applications on these predictions.

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Why have this summer’s A-level exam grades caused so much trouble?

Following the cancellation of public exams, Ofqual used an algorithm based on rankings of students within a school, combined with each school’s historic performance, to allocate A-level grades. The resulting outcry led to grades instead being awarded based on school assessments.

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How is coronavirus affecting the mental health of adolescents?

Concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents were growing even before Covid-19 and the recession. Vulnerabilities may be heightened as a consequence of the pandemic, lockdown and widespread uncertainty about the future.

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Why has social care been so badly hit by Covid-19?

The social care system in England was ill-prepared for coronavirus. Examples of the many weaknesses that have made it harder to protect users include difficulties in acquiring protective equipment and the discharge of hospital patients with Covid-19 into care homes.

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What are the effects of lockdown and recession on domestic violence?

Lockdowns have been followed by a surge in domestic violence. It is vital to understand the impact of unemployment, income loss and time spent at home to assess the remedial potential of cash transfers compared to initiatives such as shelters that can help women to escape.

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How might social isolation affect people’s wellbeing during the pandemic?

The policy response to Covid-19 has required the population to isolate themselves from most of their friends and families. While this has been necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus, it carries significant risks for other health and wellbeing issues, particularly mental health.

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How should the government support households with unpayable debts?

In the now seemingly likely event of a slow recovery from the Covid-19 recession and high levels of unemployment, the government will need schemes to manage insolvency for households at risk of being unable to pay their debts. What types of support will be most effective?

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Has coronavirus made anyone better off?

Does anybody prefer the state of the world now to how it would be with no pandemic? It seems clear that the severe restrictions on daily life and the risk of getting Covid-19 far outweigh any possible gains, except for a very few people.

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After coronavirus, can the housing market support economic recovery?

The UK’s housing market was essentially closed during lockdown with residential moves severely restricted while millions of households were supported with their housing costs and had the threat of eviction removed. What role might the sector play in the recovery?

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Will coronavirus worsen the UK's problem with obesity?

Reducing obesity, particularly in children, has been a major aim of governments for many years. It is likely that lockdown in response to the pandemic has been having the opposite effect – making daily life more sedentary, reducing physical activity and increasing food consumption.

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How can we protect young people from being scarred by coronavirus?

Young people suffer negative consequences from recessions – and we expect their experience of the Covid-19 crisis to be no different. The government has a toolkit of policies to protect them from long-lasting ‘scarring’ effects: which measures are most likely to succeed?

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What difference will the COVID Summer Food Fund make to children’s lives?

Following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, the government’s COVID Summer Food Fund will provide food vouchers for children from low-income families who are eligible for free school meals. What are the likely results?

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How much will lifting lockdown start to reverse the UK’s economic slump?

Preliminary data suggest that the dramatic fall in UK consumer spending preceded the introduction of lockdown and social distancing in March. Will this fall in consumption reverse as lockdown restrictions ease – or persist because of subdued consumer confidence?

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How has coronavirus affected prices in the supermarket?

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the closure of cafés and restaurants, a big increase in home working and some people engaged in panic buying. This has fed through to an increase in spending in supermarkets and food retailers – and driven up grocery prices.

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How will the response to coronavirus affect gender equality?

The Covid-19 crisis presents a potentially major setback for gender equality with its effects likely to persist long after lockdown has ended. Why have women borne such a heavy economic and caring burden – and will the negative impact persist?

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What has coronavirus taught us about working from home?

The pandemic has now forced millions of people to work from home, typically those with higher incomes and in higher-income economies. Surveys suggest that, to date, employers have been positively surprised by the efficacy of this new way of working.

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How can we make up the learning losses from lockdown?

The weeks of missed schooling for the younger generation due to coronavirus would lead to lower growth and greater inequality if left unaddressed. An extensive but time-limited programme of small group tutoring could help to repair some of the educational damage.

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What are the prospects for young people joining the labour market now?

Evidence from previous economic downturns suggests that young people leaving full-time education in the Covid-19 recession are going to find it much harder to secure employment and even harder to enter well-paid occupations than their immediate predecessors.

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How might the crisis affect children from poorer backgrounds?

Children who grow up in low-income households or whose parents have low levels of education lag behind their peers in progress on maths and reading at school. They also typically have worse behavioural skills. Will the lockdown and the recession make things even worse for them?

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How has coronavirus affected the division of domestic labour?

How has the division of family responsibilities for childcare, housework and home schooling been affected by lockdown? While the extra burden of ‘home production’ has fallen more on women, new ways of working may encourage a more equal allocation within households in future.

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How is coronavirus affecting inequalities across ethnic groups?

There are growing concerns that the UK’s ethnic minorities are suffering disproportionately as a result of the pandemic – in terms of both their higher mortality risks and the worse economic outcomes for some groups.

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How will the Covid-19 crisis affect the NHS?

The lockdown was implemented largely to ‘save lives and protect the NHS’ amid fears of capacity being overwhelmed. What are likely to be the effects of the crisis on the supply of NHS healthcare, and on demand for healthcare, now and in the future?

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When should schools re-open?

Countries in Europe and elsewhere have taken very different strategies to getting children back to school after closures. What are the difficulties in making decisions about re-opening? And why is there so much variation among national approaches?

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How will lockdown and the recession affect children’s health?

The combination of a global health emergency and an economic downturn is unprecedented. But research evidence on the effects of previous crises and other challenging circumstances can shed light on the potential impact of lockdown and the recession on children’s health.

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What are the effects of recessions on health?

An economic downturn affects people’s lives in many ways. Economic research has investigated how recessions affect their health and health behaviour – and how these outcomes vary across different generations and different socio-economic groups.

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What will be the impact of lockdown on children’s development?

Education plays a key role in cultivating the cognitive, behavioural and emotional skills that enable children to succeed in life. What are school closures during lockdown likely to mean for the accumulation of these skills among primary and early secondary school age children?

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What will be the impact of the crisis on household finances?

The finances of poorer and younger UK households are being hit harder by the Covid-19 recession. The policy response to provide immediate support for fragile household finances has been radical, but there are big questions about longer-term outcomes.

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Will government measures protect the most vulnerable in society?

The UK government’s strategy for supporting incomes in the crisis rests on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the social security system, mainly Universal Credit. What do we know about their effectiveness in protecting the vulnerable?

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What is the likely impact of remote learning on educational outcomes?

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, online learning was becoming increasingly prevalent in higher education. Now it is happening in schools during lockdown, what do we know about its impact on students’ performance? And is there a danger it will widen educational inequalities?

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How will lockdown and recession affect the lives of the very young?

It is widely understood that what happens in the early stages of life – from conception to the age of 5 – can have long-lasting effects. How might the experience of lockdown and the Covid-19 recession influence future outcomes for the very young?

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How can we measure consumer price inflation in a lockdown?

How can we keep track of consumer prices when visits to shops to collect data are not currently possible, when many items in the ‘shopping basket’ are not being trading – haircuts, restaurant meals and such like – and when patterns of spending have changed so much?

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Funded by

UKRI Economic and Social Research Council
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