COVID-19’s Social Impact

A new long-term study out of NYU Abu Dhabi will assess the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the lives of 5,000 participants from three countries.

Kinga Makovi and Malte Reichelt, assistant professors of the Social Research and Public Policy program at NYU Abu Dhabi, are working with a network of academics to study the immediate, short, and long-term social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Germany and Singapore.

Funded by the COVID-19 Facilitator Research Fund at NYUAD, and supported by the Research Center for Interacting Urban Networks (CITIES), the overarching goal of the research is to study a diversity of outcomes across contexts that have seen different impact of the pandemic and different policy responses to it.

The two NYUAD professors, along with colleagues at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland, are building a panel of nationally representative samples of the population in these three countries. 

The team will follow some 5,000 respondents’ experiences and outcomes for at least 12 months. “The questions we focus on, for example   how people’s personal networks change, and in turn how this helps or hinders economic recovery of families, cannot be answered unless you can follow people over time,” said Makovi.

Kinga Makovi, Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, NYUAD

The study will look to monitor and track changes in social network composition, labor-market outcomes, social norms, specifically relating to what people believe is socially- beneficial behavior, and measures of cooperation in communities.

As part of the initial survey, Makovi and Reichelt have already gleaned some interesting information about participants' behavior in regards to the coronavirus. Specifically, and perhaps counterintuitively, how political identity plays a role.

 “What is interesting from the initial findings is that many of the responses to the questions regarding COVID-19 are tied to political ideology. As wild as it may sound, health shouldn’t be a political issue, but it apparently is,” she said.

Malte Reichelt, Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, NYUAD

Political stances of the respondents correlate with  how they plan on managing information about their personal health, and their willingness to vaccinate themselves to avoid contracting COVID-19, should a vaccine become available. 

As the study unfolds, the researchers are hoping to better understand how socio-economic standing and ideology relates to health and other social behaviors related to COVID-19. 

The researchers will continue to monitor the respondents over the next year, checking in at pivotal periods in the respective countries such as the month leading up to the US presidential elections.