Coronavirus Survey Part 3: 4 out of 10 Hungarians not able to cover basic expenses

The Hungarians living in Transylvania believe that the economic effects of the COVID-19 epidemic will be at least as serious as those of the 2008 financial crisis, results from the Coronavirus in Transylvania survey show. The study was conducted voluntarily by the Közpolitikai Elemző Központ Egyesület (Association of the Public Policy Analysis Center), which manages Erdélystat, a statistical website on Transylvania, and by the SoDiSo Research polling group. The latest results, published several days ago, focus on the economic effects of the pandemic and show that 15 percent of respondents are seriously endangered, meaning that a possible prolongation of the crisis may result in fundamental challenges to their ability to subsist.

The study focused on five major problems. The first and second parts of the results, regarding people’s general health and attitudes as well as issues with social distancing and movement restrictions, are already available on TransylvaniaNOW. In this third part, we present the economic and social effects of the epidemic.

According to the study, this situation is affecting everyone financially. While there is a consensus that the economic effects of the epidemic will be at least as severe as those of the 2008 economic crisis, the majority of the respondents are envisioning a more negative scenario.

Q: In your opinion, the economic effects of the pandemic will be more or less severe than the effects of the 2008 economic crisis? A: More severe; Approximately as severe; Less severe; N/A. Photo: Erdé

Approximately two-thirds of respondents said their financial situation will worsen significantly, and only one-quarter hopes that the epidemic won’t have a lingering effect on household income.

Those who live in urban areas, youth, those with a low level of education and those who work in agriculture are more pessimistic. By economic sectors, those working in hospitality, commerce, industry and transport are expecting more negative scenarios.

Q: What financial impact do you think the epidemic will have on you and your family? A: Very negative; Negative; It won’t have a serious effect; Positive; Very positive; N/A. In red: 65 percent negative; 5 percent positive. Photo: Erdé

Four out of ten people may end up in a vulnerable situation: 42 percent of the respondents are likely to have basic expenses they will not be able to cover if the epidemic lasts two or three months. For most of them (29 percent), paying bills will be problematic, while one-quarter fear they won’t have enough money for food.

Q: If the restrictive measures are prolonged for another 2-3 months, the following things may happen to you? A: Not be able to pay the bills; Won’t have enough money for food; Won’t be able to pay back loans; Won’t have enough money for medications; None of these threaten me; N/A. In red: 42 percent are socially vulnerable (mentioned at least one of the options). Photo: Erdé

If restrictions are not eased or special social benefits are not introduced, around 15 percent of respondents could find themselves in a serious situation in the short term: Even buying food could be a problem for them within a month.

Q: Based on your savings and expected income, for how long could you maintain your normal living expenses? A: We no longer can, we are already in trouble; A couple more (2-3) days; A couple more (2-3) weeks; A couple more (2-3) months; Up to 6 months; For at least a year or more; N/A. In red: less than a month. Photo: Erdé

The severely vulnerable are overrepresented among youth living in Szeklerland and the Partium region, as well as those with a middle-school or vocational-school education. By labor market activity, the most affected are unskilled workers, those with jobs that do not require specific qualifications, those employed in services, the self-employed and farmers who produce food for their own families. By economic sector, those working in trade, hospitality, light industry and construction are facing above-average existential vulnerability.

The study was conducted between April 1-10, with the participation of 7,450 people. The survey was carried out online and via phone.

Title image: One-quarter of the respondents fear they won’t have enough money for food. Photo: Egészsé

Author: Orsi Sarány