European Household Spending and Socio-economic Impacts on Food Behavior during the First Wave of COVID-19

Hristo Hristov, Jeremy Millard*, Igor Pravst, Meike Janssen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper provides a European-level analysis using a large-scale survey of 13 countries to examine the power of relevant economic and socio-demographic characteristics to account for changes in food consumption and purchasing behavior during COVID-19. This was done by focusing on a two-level analysis of subject-related predictors highlighted in many existing country-level studies to test the generality of their significance. The Level 1 predictors relate to the individual households participating in the survey consisting of household composition, education, and location, as well as three types of perceived COVID-19 risks of infection, severity, and anxiety. Level 2 relates to the national level, and especially to the financial situation measured by the mean national Actual Individual Consumption (AIC) per capita in PPP, of the countries, in which the households reside. In terms of changes in food consumption, results show that household composition, education, and the household’s perceived risk of both being infected by COVID-19 and being severely infected are significant predictors, although there are some differences between the two levels. Some possible explanations are as follows: putting food into one’s body in the context of the pandemic is related to a household’s financial situation, its composition, especially the presence or absence of children and older people, and its educational attainment, and through all these aforementioned to the perception of COVID-19 infection and its severity risks. Changes in food purchasing react significantly to the same predictors, but additionally, to all other predictors at both household and AIC levels. The household’s location and perceived COVID-19 anxiety risks are thus also significant. Food purchasing depends much more on factors operating both at the individual household level and the AIC level together; for example, households’ access to food is affected by both national and local lockdown restrictions that vary according to the location of the household.
Original languageEnglish
Article number869091
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Food consumption
  • Food purchasing
  • COVID-19
  • Financial status
  • Household composition
  • Behavioral change

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