Monday 30 March, 2020

Poll: 89% worried over ability to provide for family amid COVID-19

What’s the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Jamaica’s economy?

That’s the question being asked by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), which collaborated with Bluedot Data Insights to get the answer.

Over the past three weeks, Jamaica has confirmed 25 positive tests for the novel coronavirus, including one death. Social distancing has been implemented, non-essential business services have been significantly reduced and, on Wednesday, Jamaica closed its borders to incoming passengers.

Significantly, commercial activities have slowed with the potential for a massive ripple effect from the consumer to financial institutions.

In its first poll, the CAPRI/Bluedot survey revealed that 89 per cent of Jamaicans were concerned about their ability to provide for their families during the outbreak.

However, when asked what their biggest concern was about COVID-19, economic viability was secondary to persons primary fear – infection. Of the 604 respondents, economic security was ranked third in importance while personal infection was first and a family member or friend becoming infected was second.

When respondents were asked “Is your income likely to be affected by the outbreak?”, women appeared to be more vulnerable, with 63 per cent responding yes compared to 55 per cent of men.

Executive Director of CAPRI, Dr Damien King, believes the extensive media attention is fueling the fear factor of infection while noting that the economic ramifications of this pandemic are equally concerning and far-reaching.

King... citizens and businesses wont be able to service debts.

“With the loss of income due to business closures and low to no productivity, currency circulation becomes stagnant,” noted King. “This means citizens and businesses wont be able to service debts which can make the banks insolvent.”

CAPRI says Bluedot’s platform, Comuna - an online database representing varying demographics, provided an easy and quick way to conduct a timely study. The think tank says its goal is to use evidence to inform policy and decision-making by the Government in response to the pandemic.

Larren Peart, CEO of Bluedot and a passionate advocate for a data-driven culture, says this pandemic underscores the important role of data in today’s society.

“There has been a tremendous amount of information sharing globally from reliable sources around COVID-19. That information is based on a systematic methodology to data collection and analysis and Bluedot and CAPRI are taking the same approach for Jamaica. More data and less panic is the Bluedot mantra,” Peart said.

Peart... pandemic underscores the important role of data.

CAPRI added that Bluedot’s online survey capabilities was particularly useful, compared to field observations, which would have been highly discouraged at this time. As a result, King says more targeted surveys will be done that can yield deeper insights.

“We need to know how attitudes are evolving in real time and what are the potential consequences to our economy and our livelihood. More research will make us better informed and better positioned to protect the economy and Jamaicans’ living standards,” said King.

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