Public Health vs. Economic Concerns

When there is a choice between the two, Americans claim they are more concerned about public health

a COVID-19 Data Project feature

When we look at the average allocation of concern between the economy and public health, we see that Americans are fairly evenly divided with a slight edge toward public health (3.5-point advantage towards public health).

However, when we look just through the lens of which choice received a higher allocation, we see that a plurality of Americans (39 percent) are more concerned about the public health aspect of COVID than the economic crisis. This is compared to 30 percent who are equally concerned about both and 26 percent who are more concerned about the economic issues.

Despite the record number of hospitalizations and deaths the last three months, concern is been consistent since the summer

Looking at the average net difference between public health and economic concerns over time, we see that there was a significant trend downward from early April to the middle of May of last year. However, it then began to rise throughout the summer before leveling off in the fall and winter. This is despite the record number of hospitalization and deaths we saw during the last three months.

Men Are Far More Focused on the Economy

When we look at the concerns by gender, we see that initially women and men had a similar level of concern between public health and the economy. Recently, they’ve started to go in different directions.

For the first time since we started tracking public health versus the economy, men are more concerned, on average, about the economy than women.

White and Black Americans Are Trending in Opposite Directions

Looking at the average allocation trend-lines by race since March, it’s clear that there has been a significant amount of noise and volatility in the data. While all Black, White, and Hispanic Americans continue to show more concerned about public health since the fall, White Americans have been becoming more concerned about the economy.

Over that same period, Black Americans have become more concerned with public health while Hispanic Americans’ trend-line remains volatile.

Older Americans are Getting Concerned About The Economics

Older Americans were once much more concerned with the public health crisis. Lately, they have become more concerned with the economic situation.

When we breakout public health concerns versus economic concerns, it is no surprise that younger Americans are far more concerned about the economic implications of the pandemic than older Americans. However, it’s worth noting that all three age groups have remained on the “public health” side of the ledger, and Americans under 45 have been more concerned with public health than middle-age Americans.

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