Exploring Physical and Mental Well-Being of Different Population Groups During the COVID-19 Pandemic as It Relates to Income Inequality
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SUMMARY COVID-19 impacted populations on the international, national, regional, and community level. These impacts were felt in countless sectors of society, resulting in shockwaves that we are just beginning to understand the gravity of. One of these areas that has become clearer includes the global impact on income, income inequality, and physical and mental well-being. It has been well accepted in the international literature that members of society who were considered more disadvantaged than others experienced the COVID-19 pandemic differently. Households in lower income brackets have been more at risk to COVID-19 infection and more severe disease than of those in higher income brackets. A similar statement can be said about those with less higher education, in occupations which pay less, or other single parent households; all experienced the pandemic with a greater risk to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or death from COVID-19. This has been echoed on an international scale at the time of this writing and during the pandemic. Multiple studies were conducted to aid in understanding this picture, but few studies reported on income and income inequality on the household or individual level. The World Health Organization considers the big key factors for health equity to be social class, income, education, gender, ethnicity, employment type and employment conditions (i.e., workplace safety), housing conditions (i.e., access to clean water), behavioral factors (such as mask use), and psychosocial factors (i.e., social support). Income and income inequality are important to explore due to the impact that income has on an individual’s access to vital resources; something that ultimately has the potential to impact their physical and mental well-being. Few studies reported results in which COVID-19 cumulative incidence and mortality increased for individuals in higher income brackets during the beginning waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been thought to be due to members of society in higher income brackets having access to freedom of movement and increased mobility through travel, increased business practices, etc. With few studies reporting on explanatory reasons pertaining to the associations of income inequality, different waves during the pandemic, and COVID-19 risk factors on the individual or household income level, much remains unexplored in terms of fully comprehending income inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it relates to physical and mental well-being. Although not as commonly considered in the mainstream media, COVID-19 and income inequality provide an important intersection gap in the international literature, leaving room for further empirical studies.