Low-income workers face a higher risk of income loss during the Covid-19 lockdown

The findings provide useful insights for policymakers and leaders seeking to ease the lockdown, while carefully balancing pandemic containment and economic burdens.


A collaborative study by the UCL, Bank of Thailand, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and GRIPS, Tokyo, suggests that Low-income workers disproportionally affected by COVID-19 lockdown as it is less possible to conduct their jobs from home.

The study used Thailand as a contextual study. Still, the discoveries are exceptionally applicable for different nations with comparable work showcase structures—explicitly, those with a large share of self-employment and low social safety net.

Dr. Suphanit Piyapromdee (UCL Economics) said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted working life in many ways, with the negative consequences around employment and pay, distributed unevenly under lockdown regulations.

“A substantially larger percentage of people in lower-income groups have manual roles, such as construction (10% in Thailand; 11.5% in EU-27) or machine-based jobs, which means they can’t work remotely and are without any income.

“Therefore, without adequate government intervention to support income or employment for the poor, the adverse impact of Covid-19 could worsen income inequality.”

The discovery gives valuable insights to policymakers and leaders looking to facilitate the lockdown, while cautiously balancing pandemic containment and economic burdens.

Dr. Nada Wasi (Bank of Thailand, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research) said: “Our analysis suggests that workers in jobs which are not adaptable to work from home, but do not require frequent physical contact with others, should be allowed to return to their workplaces first. They account for one-third of workers from low-income brackets.

“On the other hand, those who usually work in close physical proximity to others, but whose jobs are well-suited to work from home, maybe the last to return to normalcy.”

Dr. Ponpoje Porapakkarm (GRIPS) pointed out that: “Married couples from the lower-income households are much more likely to be in similar occupations, and are highly concentrated in jobs not adaptable to work from home. Whereas, higher-income workers have a lower correlation between husband and wife occupations.”

Scientists noted, “a means-tested emergency relief programs—looking at household income as well as individual income—would be more suitable than universal support programs in terms of targeting those working in most adversely affected occupations.”

Dr. Warn N. Lekfuangfu (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) said: “Our study takes the first step to analyzing the impact of the pandemic from the labor supply side. Future research could also factor in labor demand, such as the decline in consumption and supply-chain effects, as well as worker re-distribution during the pandemic.”

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