Travel, Paper Products, Schooling Kids and Caretaking: Daily Life Impacts of COVID-19 in 2021

April 19, 2021 | Letters

Authors: Dr. Nicole Olynk Widmar, Associate Department Head and Professor, Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics
Dr. Courtney Bir, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University

In Summer 2020, we shared data about the daily impacts of the pandemic on our lives including less travel and concerns about finding and buying perishable products and toilet paper. From our June 2020 data released in ConsumerCorner.2020.Letter.13 on August 10th 2020 → In a Nut Shell: U.S. resident reporting of COVID-19 impacts suggests availability of perishable groceries (including meat and dairy) were less impacted than paper products, daily activities, travel plans and school/work activities. 

Mean level of reported impact for respondents for which the statement applied

Now, six months later, we revisited the impact of COVID-19 on respondents’ daily lives including questions about availability of essential products and travel, while also inquiring about the self-reported impact on caretaking duties, lack of access to childcare and educational responsibilities. Table 1 displays the mean level of impact reported by respondents to whom the statement applied, in addition to the statistical rank order of the statements relative to one another.

Table 1. Impact of COVID-19 on lifestyle.

Table 1. Impact of COVID-19 on lifestyle

Unsurprisingly, and unchanged from June 2020, respondents reported the greatest mean impact in their ability to execute travel plans. Then, tied for second highest level of impact is the educational responsibility for children and the ability to buy paper products — neither of which were statistically different from the mean reported impact of caretaking for adult family members. Lack of childcare impacting the ability to work was tied for third and fourth rank in terms of impact; however, it should be noted that this statement was only applicable to 366 of the total 929 respondents. Thus, while the mean impact may not be at the very top of the relative rank, those impacts are accruing to specific segments of the population, fueling discussions of disproportionate impacts of childcare during COVID on working women seen in the media recently. (Investigations into demographics most impacted according to our latest data available are ongoing at this time.)