The effect of pandemic‐related economic disruption on young adolescents in Ireland
Children, Vol. 9, No.7, 2022
The sudden health and economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic affords an opportunity to examine the impact of economic disruption to children and families. Any negative effects on the well-being of children are important to consider in relation to both short- and long-term outcomes. Using pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic waves of the longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study, we examined whether the impact of economic disruption was equivalent for families who were (or were not) financially vulnerable pre-pandemic. We then investigated whether economic disruption was associated with a negative effect on the emotional well-being of 12-year-olds, and if there was evidence for such a negative effect being mediated through a lack of material resources or strain on family dynamics. Our results indicated that middle-income rather than lowest-income families experienced the most economic disruption, likely reflecting the sector-specific nature of business closures in the pandemic. Families who were financially vulnerable pre-pandemic were less likely to have had suitable resources for homeschooling. Both falls in income and strain in family relationships, such as arguing more with their parents, were associated with poorer scores on a measure of the child’s emotional well-being. The emergency income support payment introduced at the start of the pandemic appeared to have a protective effect on the association between family income loss and child well-being, which has wider implications for policy on child poverty.