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SOS incomes: simulated effects of COVID-19 and emergency benefits on individual and household income distribution in Italy

Giovanni Gallo, Michele Raitano

Journal of European Social Policy, August 3, 2022  

Using a static microsimulation model based on a link between survey and administrative data, this article investigates the effects of the pandemic on income distribution in Italy in 2020. The analysis focuses on both individuals and households by simulating through nowcasting techniques changes in labour income and in equivalized income, respectively. For both units of observations, we compare changes before and after social policy interventions, that is, automatic stabilizers and benefits introduced by the government to address the effects of the COVID-19 emergency. We find that the pandemic has led to a relatively greater drop in labour income for those lying in the poorest quantiles, which, however, benefited more from the income support benefits. As a result, compared with the ‘No-COVID scenario’, income poverty and inequality indices grow considerably when these benefits are not considered, whereas the poverty increase greatly narrows and inequality slightly decreases once social policy interventions are taken into account. This evidence signals the crucial role played by cash social transfers to contrast with the most serious economic consequences of the pandemic.

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