Original Research - Special Collection: Wars and pandemics economic and financial consequences

COVID-19 and the financial well-being and personal finances of South African households

Jacobus P. Fouché
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 16, No 1 | a830 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v16i1.830 | © 2023 Jacobus P. Fouché | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2022 | Published: 19 May 2023

About the author(s)

Jacobus P. Fouché, Workwell Research Unit, School of Accounting Sciences, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Orientation: COVID-19 pandemic inflicted economic damage on an unprecedented scale worldwide, and was expected to have a direct influence on the personal finances of households and individuals.

Research purpose: The main objective of the study was to establish the association between COVID-19 and the accompanying lockdown, and household and personal finances in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: More information is needed about the actual influence of a sudden economic crisis on household finances, especially financial well-being.

Research approach/design and method: This cross-sectional study was exploratory in nature and followed a quantitative non-experimental design within a positivist paradigm. A total of 431 persons participated in the research, which aimed to establish the association between lockdown and income, expenditure, investments, bank balances and savings and outstanding debt.

Main findings: Decreases in income were not completely offset by an equal decrease in expenditure. Certain demographic groups were affected more, especially vulnerable groups. They used more of their savings to cover shortfalls and reported a larger increase in outstanding debt.

Practical/managerial implications: With regard to personal finance, future efforts during pandemics and other disasters should have a greater focus on vulnerable groups. Support could be in the form of grants supplementing income because not all expenditure is elastic. Assistance is also needed with grocery expenses, as this category of spending saw the greatest increase, placing maximum strain on household finances.

Contribution/value-add: This academic study was conducted to examine the overall association between lockdown during the pandemic and household finances in South Africa.


COVID-19; lockdown; personal finance; household finances; household income; household expenditure; household savings; household debt


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