Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 78 ›› Issue (4): 894-912.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202304008

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The impact of COVID-19 on China's household consumption and consumption structure in 2020-2022

SUN Gennian(), XING Di   

  1. School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
  • Received:2022-11-14 Revised:2023-03-09 Online:2023-04-25 Published:2023-04-14
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation(20BJY204);National Natural Science Fundation for Distinguished Young Scholars(41901144)


Since 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic has repeatedly resurfaced in several cities in China, causing significant shocks to residents' lives and consumption. Accurately measuring the impact of the epidemic shock on household consumption and its structure is an important issue in the economic assessment of the epidemic and in promoting the recovery of household consumption. Based on the monthly data of household consumption from January 2020 to September 2022, this paper conducted a quantitative assessment study of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on household consumption structure based on the tourism background trend line theory, the monthly index decomposition model and the background line distance level analysis method. The results found that: (1) The COVID-19 epidemic had a direct impact on all eight types of consumption, with smaller losses in food, clothing and housing, and larger losses in transport, culture and entertainment, and healthcare, etc. The recovery period for the rigid demand was significantly faster than that for optional consumption; the six waves of the epidemic caused different curves of fluctuations in the high-resolution distance levels of the eight types of consumption. (2) Comparing the changes in consumption structure in the three years before and after the epidemic, we found that: the Engel's coefficient of consumption rebounded by 2 percentage points. The mental Engel's coefficient dropped by 2.6 percentage points. The structural diversification index dropped by 3.4 percentage points. This means that an obvious downgrading happened in the structure of short-term consumption. Comparing the structural changes in consumption in the period of the epidemic shock with those in the period of the epidemic slowdown, a similar fluctuation cycle was observed. (3) In terms of the impact of the six waves of the epidemic, the Wuhan epidemic in 2020 and the Shanghai epidemic in 2022 had a greater impact, resulting in losses of up to 1092 yuan per capita and 490 yuan per capita for all types of consumption by residents. Finally, combining the variation of CPI and the epidemic prevention policies, this paper conducts a cause analysis of food consumption growth and the continued negative margin of healthcare consumption.

Key words: consumption structure, COVID-19, tourism background trend line, consumption recovery cycle, China