Global: The financial impact of COVID-19
September 27th, 2021, Christien Pheby

Global: The financial impact of COVID-19

A new YouGov survey conducted for Bloomberg reveals how the pandemic has affected consumers in terms of spending, savings, debt, and cost of living

COVID-19 been both a global health crisis and a global financial crisis. New research from YouGov – featured in Bloomberg News – illustrates how the pandemic has affected consumers in 17 worldwide markets.

In terms of general cost of living, it has been an expensive pandemic for much of the international public. While two in five say it has stayed much the same (42%), a similar proportion say their cost of living has increased (40%). And while much has been made of how working from home has saved people the cost of commuting, this may have been partially or completely offset by the cost of running a home as a workplace – and in any case, not everyone works from home, and not all jobs survived the pandemic. With this in mind, it may not be too surprising that just one in ten say their cost of living has decreased (9%). Consumers in Poland (57%) and urban Mexico (55%) are most likely to say that simply keeping themselves alive has become more expensive, while those in Nordic countries are least likely to say the same (Sweden 24%; Denmark 21%).

Outside of this, one in every three global consumers has increased his or her general spending (32%), compared to a fifth who have seen their spending go down (20%). Again, Poland (54%) and Mexico (52%) share the dubious honour of topping the table above, while Denmark (17%) and Sweden (15%) take the bottom two spots.

COVID-19 and debt

Beyond the day-to-day financial impact of COVID-19, the pandemic has hit a number of consumers when it comes to long-term planning. Altogether, one in five (19%) say the pandemic has increased their level of debt, while 16% say their level of debt has decreased and a third (34%) say it has stayed the same.

Consumers in Mexico (38%) and the UAE (30%) are most likely to have fallen deeper into debt over the crisis so far, while German (11%) and Danish (9%) consumers are least affected.

Other consumers have had difficulty putting money away for future financial goals. While one in five (20%) have managed to make some progress in terms of savings, nearly twice as many (38%) have had to dip into their savings during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Indonesia (52%) and India (48%), the proportion is as high as half of the public, while consumers in the Nordic markets we surveyed are most likely to have saved more money (32% Denmark; 28% Sweden). Those markets with the biggest rate drops in expenditure and debt also appear to have seen the strongest growth in their ability to save – and vice versa.


The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets. All interviews were conducted online in August 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.

Other findings from this study were featured in Bloomberg News.

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