Evidence type: Insight i
Qualitative research is more exploratory, and uses a range of methods like interviews, focus groups and observation to gain a deeper understanding about specific issues - such as people’s experiences, behaviours and attitudes.
Quantitative research uses statistical or numerical analysis of survey data to answer questions about how much, how many, how often or to what extent particular characteristics are seen in a population. It is often used to look at changes over time and can identify relationships between characteristics like people’s attitudes and behaviours.
Alongside the dire health implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the economic effects have had a huge impact on household living standards. As large parts of the economy were being shut down in the first lockdown between March and May 2020, it became clear that the lockdown and the ensuing recession would have impacts felt disproportionately throughout society. The pandemic followed two other major events that had far-reaching consequences for living standards – the financial crisis and the following recession, and a post-referendum inflation ‘hit’. While there was record employment and some progress in tackling pay inequality, this was offset by weak earnings growth. Real incomes for the lowest income families actually fell, partly due to cuts in social security benefits, and in 2018-19 were no higher than in 2001-02.
This 2020 report is the latest living standards report from the Resolution Foundation and takes a detailed look at the impact of the coronavirus crisis on UK living standards. The study uses a range of secondary data resources and information from numerous Government and third-party agencies and think tanks. The 2018-19 Family Resources Survey is also used to base a lot of the forecasting on (termed ‘nowcasting’ in the report). Levels of earnings are updated using HMRC’s real-time PAYE data to assess pay growth at different points within the earnings distribution, while the impact of increases in minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions in 2019-20 is also modelled.
Employment levels and population demographics are updated using the Labour Force Survey and ONS population figures. Tax liabilities and benefit entitlements are then simulated using this data, accounting for changes to the tax and benefits system. The incomes forecasted are specifically focussed on May 2020 rather than the entire 2020-21 period, meaning assumptions of changes in the economy are based on data available up to this point in 2020.
The authors also use regression techniques to analyse the May 2020 wave of the Understanding Society coronavirus survey.
Mike Brewer, Adam Corlett, Karl Handscomb, Charlie McCurdy and Daniel Tomlinson
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