Tracing the Health Consequences of Family Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Principal Investigator: Emily Wiemers

Active Dates: 2022 – 2027

Funding Source: NIH/NIA


The initial health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been unequal across social groups, & disparities in the economic impact of COVID-19 have amplified existing economic inequalities & health gaps. When faced with health & economic challenges, Americans often rely on family members, including those who are not coresident, to provide time help, financial assistance, & shared housing. Yet, for many disadvantaged Americans, the increased need for help from family comes at a time when the ability of family to provide help is diminished. Public transfers designed to alleviate economic hardships of the pandemic may interact w/ family transfers, but the combined effects are unknown. Despite the interdependence of health & economic challenges across generations & the effect of family support on health outcomes in the face of challenges, most research on pandemic effects focuses on individuals & households. This project fills this gap in the research creating a multidimensional contextual database linked to the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) & the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to examine the effects of the pandemic across generations of American families. The HRS & PSID have collected data on the health and well-being of individuals & their family members for decades, include supplements on COVID-19 health & economic challenges & on public and private transfers to combat these challenges, & will continue indefinitely to support an understanding of the health impacts during & in the years following the pandemic. This project enhances these data by building a contextual database on the pandemic linkable to the generations of families in the HRS & PSID across dimensions of exposure to risk; state, local, & school policies; local economic conditions; health care availability; preexisting health factors; and structural inequalities.