Who is resilient in a time of crisis? The importance of financial and non-financial resources

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Enhancing population resilience to adverse events is now a policy priority. Accordingly, there have been calls for more evidence on the determinants of resilience. We answer this call by identifying financial and non-financial resources associated with psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using longitudinal survey data, psychological resilience is measured by comparing distress reported pre-COVID-19 with distress reported during the outbreak and initial lockdown in April 2020. Methodologically, we compare differences in resilience and resources between people with identical gender, ethnicity, health, parenthood status, education, employment status, and region of residence (all measured pre-2020). We also provide estimates from within-household comparisons. Surprisingly, income, savings, and debt levels did not affect the likelihood of psychologically resilient outcomes. Cognitive ability, religiosity, and neighborhood social capital also had no protective effect. In contrast, we find robust evidence that non-cognitive skills, measured by self-efficacy, strongly protected against psychological distress. Self-efficacy also dampened the increase in distress caused by large earnings shocks. These findings support investments in non-cognitive skills that modify the damage-function from adverse events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30501-3073
Number of pages23
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • financial resources
  • panel data
  • psychological health
  • resilience

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