COVID-19 and the Demographic Distribution of Health and Economic Risks
The health impacts of COVID-19 have been modest in Australia compared to elsewhere. But as restrictions ease and the economy reopens, the risks of infection, morbidity, and job loss will require caution. Live data suggests that unemployment impacts may be considerable.
Such risks are shared unequally across locations, occupations, and industries. A key driver of differences is age and socioeconomic status. For example, areas with less healthy populations – where a resurgence in COVID-19 could wreack the most havoc – tend to be either older, poorer, or both.
Occupations with greatest exposure to infection tend to be low wage, and often held by older women. And, while older workers have so far seen lower rates of job loss than younger workers, historic data suggests that they are twice as likely to become inactive after a spell of unemployment. Such multi-dimensional risks need balanced and informed responses.
To this end, this fact sheet documents the demographic distribution of different health and economic risks across the Australian population, paying particular attention to older groups (aged 55+).