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Well-Being

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This chapter compares personal satisfaction and well-being data collected in the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey to data collected through the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) in 2013 and 2018.  While the methodologies of the two surveys differ, the corresponding results from SILC are included to provide some context to the results presented.

Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction levels with various aspects of their lives (overall life satisfaction, satisfaction with the financial situation of their households, and satisfaction with personal relationships) on a scale from 0 (‘Not at all satisfied’) to 10 (‘Completely satisfied’).  The mean score for each satisfaction level indicator was calculated by adding individual scores and dividing the total by the number of individuals.  Responses were also grouped as Low (0-5), Medium (6-8), or High (9-10).

Furthermore, respondents were asked about their ability to access non-material help from other people. Access to non-material help refers to having someone to discuss matters with or getting help with doing something.

Finally, respondents were asked how often, in the four-week period preceding their interview, they felt ‘happy’, ‘downhearted or depressed’, ‘very nervous’ and ‘lonely’.  The responses were given on a 5-point scale, with answers ranging from ‘None of the time’ to ‘All of the time’.

State Level

Satisfaction Levels

The survey results indicate that overall life satisfaction decreased from a mean score of 8.1 in 2018 to 6.5 in April 2020. In 2013, 31.4% of respondents aged 18 and over rated their overall life satisfaction as High, which increased to 44.3% in 2018, and then decreased to 12.2% in April 2020.  Conversely, in 2013 15.3% of respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as Low, falling to 8.7% in 2018, and increasing to 29.6% in April 2020.

The mean score for financial satisfaction was 5.5 in 2013, increased to 7.1 in 2018 and remained relatively level between 2018 and April 2020 (7.0).  The percentage of respondents rating their satisfaction with their household’s financial situation as High more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, rising from 12.9% to 28.0%, and decreased to 25.8% in April 2020.

The mean score for satisfaction with personal relationships remained steady at 8.6 for both 2013 and 2018, and decreased to 7.7 in April 2020. In both 2013 and 2018 approximately three in five (60.2% and 60.0% respectively) respondents rated their satisfaction with personal relationships as High, falling to just over two in five (42.4%) for April 2020.

X-axis label20132018April 2020
Overall life satisfaction31.444.312.2
Satisfaction with financial situation12.92825.8
Satisfaction with personal relationships60.26042.4

Access to Non-material Help

Respondents were asked about their ability to access non-material help from other people. These questions related to the possibility of receiving such help, not whether the help was actually needed. Access to non-material help relates to having someone to discuss matters with or getting help with doing something.

In 2018 5.2% of respondents reported Not having access to non-material help, increasing to 13.9% in April 2020.

Emotional Well-being

Respondents were asked how often they had felt ‘happy’, ‘very nervous’, ‘downhearted or depressed’ or 'lonely' in the four weeks prior to interview. Respondents could answer as follows: ‘None of the time’, ‘A little of the time’, ‘Some of the time’, ‘Most of the time’, or ‘All of the time’.

In 2013, 21.1% of respondents reported being very nervous At least some of the time, decreasing to 18.2% in 2018, and subsequently increasing to 35.5% in April 2020.

The percentage of respondents who felt downhearted or depressed At least some of the time in the four weeks prior to interview was 21.3% in 2013, decreasing to 13.4% in 2018, and increasing to 32.4% in April 2020.

In 2018, 16.9% of respondents reported feeling lonely At least some of the time, increasing to 26.6% in April 2020.

X-axis label20132018April 2020
Being very nervous21.118.235.5
Feeling downhearted or depressed21.313.432.4
Feeling lonely16.926.6

In 2013, 76.5% of respondents aged 18 and over reported being happy either All or most of the time, increasing to 80.4% in 2018, and falling to 62.0% in April 2020.

X-axis labelAll/most of the timeSome/a little/ none of the time
201376.523.5
201880.419.6
April 20206238

Age and Gender

The mean overall life satisfaction scores for each age group were lower in April 2020 than in both 2013 and 2018. Respondents aged 18-34 were the least likely to report High overall life satisfaction and had the largest decrease of all age groups between 2018 (48.8%) and April 2020 (10.2%).

In April 2020, respondents aged 70 and above were the most likely to rate their overall life satisfaction as High (17.6%) followed by those in the 35–44 group (14.2%).

X-axis label20132018April 2020
18-3431.548.810.2
35-4425.337.514.2
45-5425.641.711.2
55-693646.910.5
70 and over42.744.617.6

Looking at the financial situation of one’s household, respondents aged 70 and above had the highest mean score for financial satisfaction at 8.2, followed by those aged 55-69 at 7.0. Respondents aged 45-54 had the lowest mean score at 6.4. Each age group has seen an increase in financial satisfaction since 2013, with those aged 35-44 seeing the largest increase over this period, increasing from 5.0 in 2013 to 6.9 in April 2020.

Similarly, respondents in the older age groups were more satisfied with personal relationships in April 2020. Those aged 18-34 saw the largest decrease in satisfaction with personal relationships, falling from a mean score of 8.7 in 2018 to 7.2 in April 2020.  Over three in five of respondents aged 70 and over reported a High satisfaction rating for personal relationships in both 2018 (61.5%) and April 2020 (66.0%). While almost three in five respondents aged 18-34 gave a High satisfaction rating for personal relationships in 2013 (58.8%) and 2018 (59.4%), this fell to under two in five (36.5%) in April 2020.

Male respondents were more likely to report Not having access to non-material help (15.2%) than females (12.6%) in April 2020, with both showing an increase on 2018 figures, 5.4% and 4.9% respectively. The share of respondents aged 18-34 who felt they could Not access non-material help in April 2020 was over four times higher than the corresponding figure in 2018, increasing from 3.4% to 16.0%. The figure for respondents aged 70 and above was 8.7% in April 2020, double that of the 2018 figure of 4.2%.

X-axis label2018April 2020
18-343.416
35-446.116.6
46-54813.7
55-694.411.8
70 and over4.28.7

In April 2020, female respondents were less likely to report being happy All or most of the time in the past four weeks (58.3%) than males (66.0%). In 2018, over eight in ten (85.4%) of respondents aged 18-34 reported being happy All or most of the time, falling to just over five in ten (51.7%) in April 2020. 

In April 2020, 13% of respondents aged 70 and above reported being very nervous At least some of the time in the past four weeks, compared to 51.2% of those aged 18-34.

In 2018, two-thirds (66.8%) of male respondents did not feel downhearted or depressed in the four weeks prior to interview, declining to 24.5% in April 2020.  Comparatively, almost 60% of female respondents reported feeling downhearted or depressed None of the time in 2018, falling to 17.4% in April 2020.

X-axis label20132018April 2020
Male 5666.824.2
Female4959.317.4

In 2018, just under two thirds (65.1%) of respondents aged 18-34 said they felt lonely None of the time in the four weeks prior to interview – this figure has decreased to 24.8% in April 2020. On the other hand, the share of respondents aged 70 and above who felt lonely None of the time has decreased from 53.1% in 2018 to 45.7% in April 2020.  Respondents aged 35-44 were the most likely to report feeling lonely None of the time in April 2020 at 50.7%, a decrease on the 2018 figure of 63.8%.

X-axis labelAll/most/some of the timeA little of the timeNone of the time
18-3441.533.724.8
35-4417.232.150.7
45-5425.231.143.6
55-6923.528.348.3
70 and over17.237.145.7

Highest Level of Educational Attainment

The percentage of respondents that felt happy All or most of the time in the past four weeks, increased with educational attainment, while the proportion of respondents that felt downhearted or depressed At least some of the time declined with increasing educational attainment.  The proportion of respondents that reported Low levels of overall life, financial, and personal relationship satisfaction also declined with increasing educational attainment in April 2020.

Respondents whose highest level of educational attainment was post-secondary and short cycle tertiary were the least likely to report having access to non-material help in April 2020, at 83.2%, a decrease on the 2018 figure of 94.2%.  This group were also the most likely to report feeling lonely At least some of the time in April 2020, at 32.7%.

X-axis labelAll/most/some of the timeA little of the timeNone of the time
Higher secondary education or lower25.530.643.9
Post-secondary and short cycle tertiary32.730.636.8
Third level bachelor or higher2436.439.6

Self-described Health Status

Each respondent is asked to rate their health status on a five-point scale, from ‘very good’ to ‘very bad’.

During each reference period, respondents who described their health status as very good had the highest mean scores for overall life, financial, and personal relationship satisfaction, with scores declining as health status declined. The proportion with a High overall life satisfaction rating decreased for each health group in April 2020, with the largest decrease being for respondents who described their health as very good, falling from 58.7% in 2018 to 19.2%.

X-axis label20132018April 2020
Very good39.958.719.2
Good2837.310.9
Fair/Bad/Very bad19.822.54.2

The proportion of respondents reporting High satisfaction with personal relationships was lowest in April 2020 for those who described their health as fair/bad/very bad, at 32.9%. Respondents describing their health as very good had the largest decrease over this period, falling from 69.3% in 2018 to 48.9% in April 2020.

Of those whose health status was fair/bad/very bad, the share of respondents who felt nervous at least some of the time in the past four weeks increased from 37.7% in 2018 to 54.1% in April 2020; while for those describing their health as very good this figure increased from 10.9% in 2018 to 31.0% in April 2020.

In 2018, respondents describing their health as fair/bad/very bad were the most likely to report they did Not have access to non-material help at 8.8%.  While this figure increased to 11.4% in April 2020, it increased further for the other health groups.  In April 2020, 14.7% of respondents with good health, and 14.2% of those that reported very good health stated they did Not have access to non-material help.

Marital Status

Married respondents were the most likely to rate their satisfaction with their personal relationships as High in 2013 (70.0%), 2018 (68.4%) and April 2020 (51.0%).  In both 2013 and 2018, just over 50% of single (never married) respondents rated their satisfaction with personal relationships as High, declining to 32.3% in April 2020.

X-axis label20132018April 2020
Single - never married50.351.932.3
Married7068.451
Separated, divorced or widowed47.548.935.6

In 2018, over 80% of both married and never married respondents reported being happy All or most of the time in the past four weeks, falling to 66.3% for married respondents and to 55.5% for those never married in April 2020.

In April 2020, 20.3% of married respondents said they felt lonely at least Some of the time in the past four weeks, compared to 33.3% of never married respondents.

Single (never married) respondents were the most likely to report Not having Access to non-material help in April 2020 at 14.6%, an increase on the 2018 figure of 4.7%.

Household Composition

In 2018, over four in ten (42.7%) of respondents living in households with children rated their Overall life satisfaction as High, falling to 12.6% in April 2020.  Similarly, almost 50% of respondents living in households with two or more adults rated their overall life satisfaction as High in 2018, decreasing to 11.4% in April 2020.

X-axis label20132018April 2020
1 adult25.834.214.2
2+ adults36.449.711.4
Households with children28.142.712.6

Respondents living in households with two or more adults and no children were the most likely to rate their satisfaction with household finances as High (29.5%) in April 2020, while respondents living in households with children were the least likely to do so. (20.1%).

In both 2013 and 2018 the proportion of respondents with High satisfaction levels for their personal relations remained relatively steady for the three household composition groups, however these numbers declined in April 2020.  In April 2020, almost half (49.7%) of respondents living in households with two or more adults reported High satisfaction for personal relationships, compared to 64.7% in 2018 and 64.4% in 2013.  The figure for those living in households with children was 60.8% in 2013, 60.7% in 2018, and declined to 40.6% in April 2020.  Respondents living alone saw the largest decrease, going from 46.0% in 2013 and 46.5% in 2018, to 18.7% in April 2020.

In 2018, three in ten (30.2%) of respondents living alone felt lonely At least some of the time in the past four weeks, increasing to over four in ten (42.5%) in April 2020.  Conversely, almost a quarter of respondents living in households with two or more adults (24.2%) and those living in households with children (24.2%) reported feeling lonely At least some of the time in April 2020.

Respondents living alone were the most likely to report Not having access to non-material help in April 2020 at 15.3%, an increase on the 2018 figure of 5.8%.

Tenure and Dwelling Type

In 2013, 42.4% of respondents living in owner-occupied dwellings rated their satisfaction with their household finances as Low, declining to 16.3% in 2018 and increasing to 21.9% by April 2020.  Similarly, 56.5% of respondents living in rented accommodation rated their satisfaction with household finances as Low in 2013, decreasing to 33.7% in 2018 and decreasing slightly to 33.3% in April 2020.

X-axis labelLowMediumHigh
Owner-occupied21.949.428.7
Rented33.348.917.8

Respondents living in owner occupied households were more likely report having access to non-material help in April 2020 (88.4%), compared to those living in rented households (80.2%).

Respondents living in apartments, flats, or bedsitters were the least likely to rate their overall life and financial satisfaction as Low, at 16.6% and 19.6% respectively, and the most likely to report being happy All or most of the time (65.4%). This group were also the most likely to report Not having access to non-material help (18.3%), the most likely to rate their satisfaction with their personal relationships as Low (23.3%), and the most likely to report being lonely At least some of the time (29.9%).

Just under a half (46.5%) of respondents living in apartments, flats, or bedsitters reported being very nervous At least some of the time in the past four weeks in April 2020, compared to almost one in three (32.0%) of respondents living in detached houses.

X-axis labelAll/most/some of the timeA little of the timeNone of the time
Detached House3239.428.6
Semi-detached house33.630.935.5
Terraced house41.228.630.2
Apartment/Flat/Bedsitter46.529.424.1

Region

Respondents living in urban areas were more likely to rate their overall life satisfaction as Low in April 2020 (30.9%), compared to rural respondents (26.9%).  Respondents in urban areas were also less likely to report being happy All or most of the time (58.0%), than those in rural areas (69.9%).

In April 2020, respondents living in rural areas were more likely to rate their satisfaction with personal relationships as High (45.1%), compared to urban areas (41.0%).  Satisfaction with personal relationships was lower in the Eastern and Midlands region, with 40.5% of respondents reporting a High score, compared to 44.2% in both the Northern and Western region and the Southern region.

Respondents in the Northern and Western region were most likely to report Not having access to non-material help at 16.1%, compared to 13.8% of those in the Southern region and 13.2% of those in the Eastern and Midlands region.  Respondents in urban areas were also more likely to report Not having access to non-material help than rural residents, 15.1% and 11.4% respectively.

Show Table: Table 2.1 Overall life satisfaction by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.2 Satisfaction with household finances by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.3 Satisfaction with personal relationships by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.4 Access to non-material help by demographic and household characteristics, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.5 Being Happy by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.6 Being Very Nervous by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.7 Feeling downhearted or depressed by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018 and April 2020

Show Table: Table 2.8 Feeling lonely by demographic and household characteristics, 2018 and April 2020

Go to next chapter >>> Personal Concerns