Brief Parents Are Struggling to Provide for Their Families during the Pandemic
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Material Hardships Greatest among Low-Income, Black, and Hispanic Parents
Michael Karpman, Dulce Gonzalez, Genevieve M. Kenney
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The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health and well-being of families across the nation and is particularly consequential for the nation’s 77 million children ages 18 and under. Using data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey collected in late March and early April 2020, we assess how the pandemic is affecting family employment and caregiving, financial decisions, and material hardship among parents living with children under age 19. We find the following:

  • More than 4 in 10 parents reported that they or someone in their family lost work or work-related income because of the coronavirus outbreak. This proportion rises to about 5 in 10 for non-Hispanic black parents and low-income parents and to more than 6 in 10 for Hispanic parents.
  • Low-income parents were less likely to be able to work from home and more likely to have had difficulty arranging child care than higher-income parents. The same holds true for Hispanic parents, who were less likely to be able to work from home and more likely to have had difficulty arranging child care than non-Hispanic white parents.
  • Parents reported coping with the pandemic’s economic impacts by cutting back spending on food, reducing savings, and going into debt.
  • More than one-third of parents reported problems paying for housing, utility, food, or medical costs in the past month, including roughly half of low-income parents and black and Hispanic parents.
Research Areas Wealth and financial well-being Families Social safety net Race and equity Children and youth
Tags COVID-19 Kids in context From Safety Net to Solid Ground Child care Economic well-being Family and household data Families with low incomes Racial barriers to accessing the safety net
Policy Centers Health Policy Center
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This brief uses new data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey, a nationally representative survey of nonelderly adults conducted between March 25 and April 10, 2020, to examine the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on families’ employment and abilities to meet basic needs,...