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Post-COVID prognosis for gig workers in China: slow and steady improvement

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Via BFA Global

A survey of food delivery drivers in China found that six months since the peak of the pandemic, many still earn less than they did before COVID-19.

The three-wave survey conducted by BFA Global and the China Academy of Financial Inclusion also found that many were still in the process of recovering from the adverse health effects six months down the road.

Food delivery drivers represent one of the largest segments of gig workers in China with as many as three million people.

Some key findings

  • The physical impact: More than 20% of the delivery drivers and those in their households faced significant adverse health effects and more than 40% of them faced some adverse health effects.

  • Impact on driver incomes: The percentage of respondents whose income had significantly decreased declined around 10% per month, from 48% in the first wave to 38% in the second wave, to 28% in the third wave. If this trend holds, BFA notes, three months from now, most of the drivers will report no significant decrease in income compared to pre-pandemic levels.

  • The majority (54.85%) have seen their incomes recover since the height of the pandemic, though they remain lower than pre-pandemic levels. Even when economic activity fully recovers, most people in this group will still need another six months to reach pre-pandemic income levels.

  • Impact on day-to-day finances: Almost one third (29%) of the riders in the first wave suffered lower income and increased expenses. This had decreased to 22% by the third wave, which indicates recovery. It will take another six months for most in the group to recover from this impact.

  • Impact on levels of debt and debt repayments: Six months after the peak of the pandemic, half of delivery riders anticipate being unable to service their debt fully.

  • Resilience to pandemic-induced economic shocks: Only one third of the survey respondents had emergency funds set aside before the pandemic, and of these, most (78%) have tapped into them.

  • Access to insurance and public assistance: Around 40% of the drivers did not have any form of insurance. Of those that did, one third made claims during the pandemic.


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