Ivan Allen College Researcher Shows Many in U.S. Faced Economic Hardship Due to Covid-19

Posted December 16, 2020

New research has found that almost 25% of U.S. respondents experienced two of four types of deprivation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shatakshee Dhongde, associate professor of economics in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, analyzed results of the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Household Economics and Decision-Making to determine the multiple economic deprivations experienced by respondents. Her work was recently published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. Dhongde found that significant proportions of U.S. respondents were experiencing economic hardships even early in the Covid-19 pandemic, with Hispanic citizens being particularly affected.

“The paper highlights the plight of Americans during the early months of the economic crisis set in motion amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Dhongde said. “It sheds light on how economic disparities deepened along racial and ethnic lines.”   

The pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic crisis in the U.S. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 374,000 confirmed U.S. Covid-19 cases between April 3 and April 6. The Federal Reserve Board surveyed 1,030 U.S. respondents about their households. The survey compiled data on four indicators of economic deprivation: overall financial condition, loss of employment, reduction in income, and inability to pay bills in full.

Dhongde found significant deprivation among respondents, with almost 25% reporting hardships in at least two of the four indicators. One quarter of respondents saw their incomes fall compared to the previous month, and 13% were unable to pay their monthly bills. Young adults and those without a college education experienced a disproportionate loss of economic well-being.

She also found that Hispanic respondents were experiencing significantly higher deprivation: over 37% of these respondents faced hardships in at least two of the four indicators, and 8% reported hardships in all four areas. 

“Going forward, it is urgent that we prioritize economic aid to vulnerable populations,” Dhongde added. “These individuals are experiencing multiple hardships, and, without immediate aid, they will not be able to sustain the economic shock of the pandemic.”

The paper, "Multidimensional Economic Deprivation During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Early Evidence from the United States,"  is available at 


For more coverage of Georgia Tech’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit our Responding to Covid-19 page.

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Denise Ward