COVID-19 and Consumer Financial Vulnerability


  • Johan van Ophem WUR



Corona, COVID-19, financial vulnerability, income decline; unemployment


Aim: This paper provides an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on consumer (household) financial vulnerability in the Netherlands in the context of socio-economic developments for households in the period 2008-2016.


Design/ research methods: After a discussion of the socio-economic developments for household in the period 2008-2016, financial vulnerability analytics is used to discuss the implications of the published results of two surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on the financial situation of households in the Netherlands (AFM/CPB, NIBUD).


Findings: It appears that problems are to be expected in households with uncertain incomes (e.g., flex workers and self-employed), in households with inflexible budgets (with fixed and necessary expenses higher than disposable income), in households that are fragile because of lack of buffers, and in households with a low income for a longer period of time. Some households such as the ones of singles and the young are less able to cope with the financial risks than others. There are lifecycle effects to be noted: the young will have difficulty in finding and keeping jobs, and therefore in making ends meet.


Value of research: The analytics and results are of interest and relevant for cross-cultural research in other Western Countries.


AFM/CPB (2020), Stress test huishoudens, CPB/AFM Corona Publication, The Hague.

Bryant W.K., Zick C. (2006), The economic organization of the household, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, New York.

Beer A., Bentley R., Baker E., Mason K., Mallett S., Kavanagh A., LaMontagne T. (2016), Neoliberalism, economic restructuring and policy change. Precarious housing and precarious employment in Australia, “Urban Studies”, vol. 53 no. 8, pp. 1542-1558.

CBS (2016a), Welvaart in Nederland 2016, [10.10.2020].

CBS (2016b), Ruim miljoen huishoudens komen moeilijk rond, [10.10.2020].

CBS (2016c), Income and spending, [10.10.2020].

CBS (2020), Statline,

De Hoog K., van Ophem J. (2006), Families and changing life styles, in: Heterodox views on economics and the economy of the global society, Meijer G., Heijman W.J.M., van Ophem J.A.C., Verstegen B.H.J. (eds.), Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, pp. 143-54.

DNB (2016), Nieuwsoverzicht en archief [12.03.2016].

Engbersen G., Snel E., Kreemers M. (eds.) (2017), De val van de middenklasse? Het stabiele en kwetsbare midden, WRR, Den Haag.

ESS (2020), About the European Social Survey, [06.12.2020].

Eurostat (2018) Eurostat press release 54/2018 – 4 April 2018.

Gill R., Pratt A. (2008), In the social factory? Immaterial labour, precariousness and cultural work, “Theory, Culture & Society”, vol. 25 no. 7-8, pp. 1-30.

Gupta Strategists (2020), COVID goes Cuckoo. How the March-April 2020 COVID-19 surge overwhelmed Dutch hospitals and undermined regular care, [06.12.2020].

Kalleberg A.L. (2009), Precarious work, insecure workers. Employment relations in transition, “American Sociological Review”, vol. 74 no. 1, pp. 1-22.

Kelton S. (2020), The deficit myth. Modern monetary theory and the birth of a people’s economy, Public Affairs, New York.

Keus P., Verbruggen J. (2018), [06.12.2020].

Knetch J. (2016), Some uses, underuses, and misuses of the findings of disparities between people’s valuations of gains and losses, “Apstract: Applied studies in Agribusiness and Commerce”, vol. 10 no. 2-3, pp. 7-14.

Krugman P. (2012), End this depression now!, Norton, New York, London.

Lusardi A., Schneider D.J., Tufano P. (2011), Financially fragile households: evidence and implications [with comments and discussion], Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, pp. 83-150.

McKee M., Reeves A., Clair A., Stuckler D. (2017), Living on the edge. Precariousness and why it matters for health, “Archives of Public Health”, vol. 75 no. 13, [06.12.2020].

Mullainathan S., Shafir E. (2013), Why having too little means so much, Times Books / Henry Holt and Co., New York.

Nettleton S., Burrows R. (2001), Families coping with the experience of mortgage repossession in the “new landscape of precariousness”, “Community, Work & Family”, vol. 4 no. 3, pp. 253-272.

NIBUD (2019a), Geldzaken in de praktijk 2018-2019, NIBUD, Utrecht..

NIBUD (2019b), Financiële problemen 2018, NIBUD, Utrecht.

NIBUD (2020), Coronabarometer. De financiële gevolgen van de coronacrisis voor werkenden, NIBUD, Utrecht.

Obermaier F., Obermayer B. (2017), The Panama papers. Breaking the story how the rich and powerful hide their money, Oneworld Publications, London.

OECD (2020a), Economic outlook December 2020, [06.12.2020].

OECD (2020b), [06.12.2020].

Piketty T. (2014), Capital in the twenty-first century, Belkin Press, Cambridge, MA, London.

Piketty T. (2020), Capital and ideology, Belkin Press, Cambridge, MA, London.

Salverda W. (2018), The Netherlands. Is long term income growth ensuring social convergence with better quality and redistribution? Paper presented at the ILO Conference “Industrial Relations in Europe. Fostering Equality and Cross-Cultural Convergence?”, Paris, 17-18 May 2018.

Standing G. (2016), The precariat. The new dangerous class, Bloomsbury, London.

Stiglitz J.E (2016), The euro. How a common currency threatens the future of Europe, Norton, New York, London.

Thompson K., Wagemakers A., van Ophem J. (2020), Assessing health outcomes in the aftermath of the great recession. A comparison of Spain and the Netherlands, “International Journal for Equity in Health”, vol. 19 no. 1, [22.12.2020].

Thompson K., van Ophem J., Wagemakers A. (2019), Studying the impact of the Eurozone’s Great Recession on health. Methodological choices and challenges, “Economics and Human Biology”, vol. 35, pp. 162-184.

Timmerman R (2019), Het werk(t) van alle kanten,pleidooi om werk opnieuw vorm te geven, Timmerman, Houten.

van Bavel (2016), The invisible hand? How market economies have emerged and declined since AD 500, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

van Bavel B., Frankema E. (2018), Wealth inequality in the Netherlands, c. 1950-2015. The paradox of the Northern European welfare state, “Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis”, vol. 14 no. 2, pp. 29-62.

van Ophem J.A.C. (1988), Huishoudens en inkomensdaling, Wageningen diss.

van Ophem J.A.C. (1990), Unemployed breadwinners and money management, in: Verhaar C.H.A., de Goede M.P.M., van Ophem J.A.C., de Vries A., Frisian long-term unemployment, Fryske Academy, Leeuwaden, pp. 107-145.

van Raaij W.F. (2012), Consumer financial behaviour, “Foundations and Trends in Marketing”, vol. 7 no. 4, pp. 231-351.

van Raaij W.F. (2016), Understanding consumer financial behavior. Money management in an age of financial illiteracy, Palgrave Macmillan, London.