COVID-19 and Second-Order Effects

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Second-Order effects are the idea that every action has a consequence. And each consequence itself has a subsequent consequence.

These effects may not be initially obvious and require some second-level thinking. It’s almost a question of “What are people missing or not seeing?”.

Found these through a number of Twitter threads going around at the moment. Decided to put them all together in one list to make for easy reading. Also added in a few effects myself too but the majority I found.
Tried to break down into short term and long term effects but it’s not a concrete timeframe. A lot on either side could justifiably be on either list.

Short Term

  • End of 2020, Early 2021 babies. Fairly obvious one.
  • Increased Divorces. People actually having to spend time with spouses and realising they don’t like them. Or at least marriage counselling demand rises.
  • Online sales for nearly everything increases.
  • The rise in the use of video streaming. Zoom etc.
  • Increase in Home Fitness Workouts, Apps, and Equipment.
  • Less reliance on and acceptance of physical money. Signs already up in my local stores asking for PayPass rather to cash. Could also be long-term.
  • More online creative content. More blogs, videos, and art being created.
  • Increase in cooking as a hobby and home-style hobbies (knitting, sewing, drawing).
  • Reduced carbon emissions. Fewer cars, planes, boats all running.
  • More online communities. People seeking interaction and inclusiveness.
  • Disappointing Box Office numbers and delays to movies.
  • Increased suicides due to isolation and job loss. The overall deterioration of mental health. Leading to increased drug and alcohol use.
  • Increased Grocery Deliveries. But will retain a percentage of those who do it, so will also transition long term.
  • Buying more video game consoles and entertainment devices: Hell I sold my PlayStation in early January but I just bought another one.
  • Reduced Auto Accident Claims and crashes (see tweet below)
  • Betting companies lose a sense of purpose and business with no sports on. An Aussie sports betting company has already resorted to encouraging gamblers to bet on the over or under on the weather. Honestly what the fuck.
  • More germaphobes so less touchy-feely type socialising.
  • Ethnic discrimination. Sad but true. I feel a lot of people will fall back on the line of “Bloody Foreigners” or “Damn Chinese”. Even though we had ample time to prepare for how bad we thought it might be.
  • More thrifty and cautious savers.
  • Rise in pet adoption.
  • Less income for online influencers.
  • A rise in online education and homeschooling: Probably a perfect chance for those thinking of an educational startup.
  • Increased Health security and screening in airports. Having travelled through Asia previously I’ve always seen the thermal cameras at arrivals but never seen on back home in Australia. Imagine that will change.
  • Reduced STI infections due to less casual sex.
  • Rise in obesity and lower overall health due to less exercise, sunlight etc.
  • Increase in porn consumption.
  • More beards and facial hair. Longer hair becomes more fashionable.
  • Tradesmen and contractors expecting payment upfront due to the uncertainty of future payments.
  • Reduction to overseas and interstate travel.
  • Buying and reading more books.
  • A rise in gun sales. (Not an effect for Australia, more so the US)


  • Normalization of Working From Home and more digital nomads.
  • More Bidets. Wasn’t sure if this was short or long-term but god I hope it comes true. Japanese toilets are living in the year 3000. We so far behind.
  • When people are sick, they stay home from work rather than being a hero and coming in to infect everyone: One of my pet peeves.
  • Online university education is legitimized and improved.
  • A stronger case for UBI.
  • Global migration to slow. Plenty of borders have been closed to foreign nationals for now, but how many of these will re-open albeit restrictive to certain nationals?
  • A generation of kids with low immunity due to all the handwashing and sanitizing? I’m no expert around this so feel iffy saying it. Feel free to flame me.
  • Better home office setups. Better homes for living and spending time in.
  • Greater appreciation of science, nursing and medical communities.
  • Increased funding for a pandemic like research.
  • Gyms are seen as the new cruise ships. Germ breeding grounds. Demand lowers for both.
  • Rise and greater adoption of the “prepper” lifestyle. Or at least people won’t look at it with as much scepticism.
  • Increased psychiatrist visits: I think this isolation and lockdown might really do some damage to peoples mental health.
  • More homegrown gardening. Cheap, easy and fun.
  • Increased use of Telehealth apps and virtual visits to doctors.
  • Trump doesn’t win reelection due to the economy taking a dump?
  • Shifting supply chains from being so reliant on China. More medicine and critical supplies produced internally.
  • Reduction of Just-in-Time inventory practices.
  • Increased Surveillance State. Ed Snowden is worried that high tech surveillance measures used during the outbreak might extend past it.
  • Greater self-sufficiency. Less reliance on outside parties.
  • Massive holiday bookings after lockdown. People, in general, looking to GTFO their homes.
  • A move to more rural living. Social and Economic reasons for cities are unmatched, but people may be more willing to move rural for their own space. Goes hand in hand with working from home.
  • Following on from the last point if it comes true, home prices in cities to lower as people look to leave city life behind.
  • Increase in Real Estate for that offer a good lifestyle balance, not just convenience.

What I miss? Hit me up on Twitter or comment below.