Inequality and the COVID-19 Crisis in the United Kingdom

Richard Blundell, Monica Costa Dias, Jonathan Cribb, Robert Joyce, Tom Waters, Thomas Wernham, Xiaowei Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


We review the effects on the Covid-19 pandemic on inequalities in education, the labour market, household living standards, mental health, and wealth in the UK. The pandemic has pushed up inequalities on several dimensions. School closures particular disrupted the learning of poorer children, leading to lower attainment. Mental health worsened for those groups (women and younger adults) who had poorer mental health pre-pandemic. Lockdowns and social distancing particularly reduced the ability of younger, lower-earning, and less educated people to work. However, job-support programmes combined with the expanded welfare system meant that, if anything, disposable income inequality fell. Rising house prices have benefited people in particular around the middle of the wealth distribution. In the longer term, lower work experience for the less educated and missed schooling could push up some inequalities. Increased rates of working from home seem likely to persist which may increase some inequalities and decrease others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-636
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the ESRC Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (ES/T014334/1), from the European Union Horizon 2020 program on Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-Course (project file number 462–16–090), and from the Fund for International Collaboration and from ESRC on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (ES/W01159X/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Annual Reviews Inc.. All rights reserved.


  • Inequality
  • COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Education
  • Living standards
  • Wealth


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