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Results and Analysis

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Six in ten (59.9%) of respondents rated their compliance with current government advice and guidelines as High in June 2020, compared to 80.6% in April.  More women reported High compliance (68.4% in June; 87.9% in April) than men (51.2% in June; 73.1% in April).

Survey respondents were asked to rate, on a scale from 0 (‘Not at all’) to 10 (‘Entirely’), the extent they were following the government’s current advice and guidelines regarding COVID-19.  Responses were grouped as Low (0-5), Medium (6-8) or High (9-10).

The High compliance rate decreased across all age groups between April and June, with those aged 45-54 seeing the largest drop from 78.0% in April to 51.5% in June.  Respondents aged 70 and over saw the lowest decrease in the High compliance rate over this period, going from 83.0% in April to 71.4% in June.  See Table 2.1.

X-axis labelAprilJune
18-3475.158.4
35-4479.953.6
45-547851.5
55-6989.568.4
70 and over8371.4

Almost half of respondents report being Very or Extremely concerned about other people’s ability to comply with government advice and guidelines

Almost half (47.7%) of respondents reported being Very or Extremely concerned with the compliance of others in June 2020.  Women were more likely to report being Very or Extremely concerned about the compliance of others at 52.0%, compared to 43.2% of men.

Respondents were asked to rate their concern with other people’s ability to comply with government advice and guidelines regarding the phased easing of COVID-19 restrictions; concern about their own health; and concern about somebody else’s health with the following answer categories: Not at all; Somewhat; Very; Extremely.

Extreme concern about the compliance of other people with government advice decreased as the age of respondents increased. Respondents aged 18-34 were the most likely to report being Extremely concerned about the compliance of others (19.9%), while those aged 70 and over were the least likely (9.1%).

X-axis labelNot at allSomewhatVeryExtremely
70 and over7.643.739.69.1
55-697.646.531.814
45-54444.535.516
35-445.843.431.719.2
18-3412.743.623.819.9

Respondents living in very disadvantaged areas were most likely to report being Extremely concerned about the compliance of others at 22.5%, compared to 13.4% of respondents in very affluent areas.  See Table 2.2.

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In June 2020, 21.3% of respondents reported being Very or Extremely concerned about their own health, a decrease on the April figure of 25.8%.  The figure for male respondents has fallen from 28.0% in April to 17.0% in June, while for female respondents it rose from 23.7% in April to 25.4% in June.

Concern for one’s own health increased with age, with 12.1% of respondents aged 18-34 reporting to be Very or Extremely concerned about their own health in June, compared to 29.6% of respondents aged 70 and over.  The proportion of respondents aged 70 and over reporting to be Very or Extremely concerned about their own health decreased from 42.5% in April to 29.6% in June – the largest drop amongst all age groups over this period. See Table 2.3.

X-axis labelAprilJune
18-341612.1
35-4421.521
45-5423.621.1
55-6934.429
70 and over42.529.6

Over half of respondents Very or Extremely concerned about somebody else’s health

In June 2020, more than half (51.3%) of respondents reported being Very or Extremely concerned about somebody else’s health, a decrease on the April figure of 63.4%.  Male respondents were less likely to report being Very or Extremely concerned about somebody else’s health (47.7%) than female respondents (54.8%).

Analysis by age groups shows that respondents aged 18-34 were most likely to report being Extremely concerned about somebody else’s health at 23.3%.  See Table 2.4. 

X-axis labelAprilJune
18 to 3432.423.3
35 to 4420.115.3
45 to 5424.412.9
55 to 6919.411.9
70 and over18.514.6
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Respondents were asked if their weight had changed since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.  A relatively small percentage (3.3%) answered that they did not know.  Of the remainder (96.7%), just over four in ten (40.9%) reported an Increase in weight, 13.7% reported a Decrease and 45.4% reported No change.  Analysis of weight change by sex, shows that female respondents were considerably more likely to report weight gain (46.8% compared with 34.8% of men), whereas male respondents were more likely to report weight loss (17.0% compared with 10.6% of women).

X-axis labelIncreasedDecreasedNo change
All Respondents40.913.745.4
Male34.81748.3
Female46.810.642.6

Results from the first Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey conducted in April may provide some context for this weight change. In that survey, female respondents were more likely to report that they felt, ‘very nervous’, ‘downhearted or depressed’ or 'lonely' in the four-week period prior to interview.  Women were also more likely to report that they were Extremely concerned about their own and somebody else’s health, and more than half (54.3%) of female respondents reported an increase in their junk food and sweets consumption compared to over one in three (35.6%) men.  Researchers have linked weight gain to stress (see Harvard School of Medicine  Why stress causes people to overeat).  While there may be other factors at play, the greater negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women’s well-being may have had some bearing on the differences in the proportions of men and women now reporting weight gain.

Analysis of weight change by household composition found that a higher percentage of adults living in households with children reported having gained weight (47.5%) when compared with adults living alone (35.2%).

Almost half (49.0%) of newly labour inactive respondents (those in employment before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and currently not working) reported an Increase in weight.  This compares with 37.6% of respondents that are currently working (see Table 2.5).

Respondents that reported a Decrease in income since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis were considerably more likely to report an Increase in weight (46.7%) when compared to respondents that reported an Increase in income (27.4%).

X-axis labelIncreasedDecreasedNo change
Increased income27.416.656
Decreased income46.71736.3
No change in income40.512.447.1

Respondents were also asked for their height and weight.  More than eight in ten (84.6%) respondents provided both height and weight measurements enabling the calculation of their Body Mass Index (BMI)[1]. Almost all (96.7%) respondents with a calculated BMI also indicated if their weight had increased, decreased or remained the same since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. More than (55.5%) of obese respondents reported having gained weight compared to a quarter (24.8%) of respondents with a healthy weight.  A similar percentage of obese and healthy weight respondents reported a Decrease in weight (14.2% and 15.0% respectively).

[1] BMI is calculated by dividing weight (Kg) by height (m2). A score of 25 or over is overweight, with scores of 30 or higher considered obese.

X-axis labelIncreasedDecreasedNo change
Healthy24.81560.2
Overweight44.910.544.6
Obese55.514.230.3

Almost two thirds (64.0%) of respondents to the CSO’s Social Impact of COVID-19 June survey who provided weight and height measurements were overweight or obese (over four percentage points higher than the comparable rate from the 2019 Healthy Ireland Survey).

The Healthy Ireland Survey is an annual survey commissioned by the Department of Health.  In 2019, It found that 60% of those aged fifteen years and older were overweight or obese.  While overweight and obesity rates as calculated from the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey are not directly comparable with the Healthy Ireland Survey rates due to methodological differences between the two surveys[2], they may provide some insight into general trends.

Results from the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey could indicate a narrowing of the gap between the rate of men and women who are overweight or obese.  The 2019 Healthy Ireland Survey found that 66% of men and 55% of women were overweight or obese (an 11 percentage point difference).  The comparable rates from the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey were 67.3% and 60.5% respectively (a 6.8 percentage point difference).  Narrowing of the difference between the rates for men and women that are overweight or obese since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis is plausible as female respondents in the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey were considerably more likely to report weight gain (46.8% compared with 34.8% of men) during this period.  See Table 2.5.

[2] Examples of methodological differences between the Healthy Ireland Survey and the Social Impacts of COVID-19 survey.  (a) In the Healthy Ireland Survey weight and height measurements were collected by survey interviewers (that received training on height and weight measurement) by direct face-to-face interview in the respondents’ own homes whereas the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey respondents self-reported their measurements in a web or telephone interview.  (b) Weight results from the Healthy Ireland survey relate to persons 15 years and older, whereas results from the Social Impact of COVID-19 relate to persons 18 years and over.

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One fifth (19.6%) of employee respondents working from home reported that they Don’t have a suitable workspace with adequate equipment in their home.

Older respondents working from home were least likely to report that they Don’t have a suitable workspace with adequate equipment compared to younger age groups.  One in ten (10.4%) of respondents aged 55-69 reported this, compared to a quarter (25.7%) of respondents aged 35-44.

More than a quarter (26.0%) of respondents living in an apartment/flat/bedsit stated that they Don’t have a suitable workspace with adequate equipment, which was higher than that of respondents living in other types of accommodation (see table 2.6).  Furthermore, nearly a third (31.2%) of respondents living in households with one ‘room’[3] or less per person reported not having adequate workspace, compared to 17.8% of those living in households with more than one ‘room’ per person.

More than one in five (22.4%) of employee respondents who commenced working from home since the implementation of restrictions reported that they Don’t have a suitable workspace with adequate equipment, which is five times higher than the corresponding figure for those who worked from home prior to the COVID-19 crisis, at 4.5%.  See Table 2.6.

[3] Rooms includes rooms such as kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, conservatories you can sit in, and studies.  It does not include bathrooms, toilets, kitchenettes, utility rooms, consulting rooms, offices, shops, halls, or landings, or rooms that can only be used for storage such as cupboards.

X-axis labelHave a Suitable Workspace with EquipmentDon't Have a Suitable Workspace with Equipment
Previously working from home95.54.5
Newly working from home77.622.4

One in five of respondents are Very or Extremely concerned about their employer’s ability to provide a safe work environment

Respondents currently engaged in work duties (including those temporarily working from home), or not currently working but expecting to return to their place of work post COVID-19, were asked how concerned they were about their employer’s ability to provide a safe working environment in the context of COVID-19, with the following answer categories: Not at all; Somewhat; Very; Extremely.

One in five (18.5%) of respondents, are Very or Extremely concerned about their employer’s ability to provide a safe work environment.  Women were almost twice as likely to be concerned than men, 24.1% compared to 12.7% respectively.

X-axis labelNot at allSomewhatVery/Extremely
Male4443.212.7
Female36.439.624.1

All respondents were also asked to rate their health status on a five-point scale, from ‘very good’ to ‘very bad’.  Over half (52.7%) of those who rated their health as ‘fair/bad/very bad’ were Very or Extremely concerned about their employer’s ability to provide a safe work environment, compared to 17.0% of respondents who rated their health as ‘good’ and 16.6% who rated their health as ‘very good’.

X-axis labelNot at allSomewhatVery/Extremely
Very good45.937.416.6
Good34.848.217
Fair/Bad/Very bad15.531.952.7

Furthermore, 43.7% of respondents Very or Extremely concerned about their own health were Very or Extremely concerned about their employer’s ability to provide a safe work environment, compared to 3.2% of respondents Not at all concerned about their own health.  See Table 2.7.  

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Four in five (79.8%) respondents reported that they had experienced reduced expenditure since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, with 77.6% of males and 82.0% of females reporting this way.

Respondents aged 18-34 were the age group that experienced a reduction in expenditure the most (84.9%) followed by those in the 55-69 and 70 and over age groups.  Nearly 81% of both these age groups reported a reduction in expenditure.  Three quarters of respondents in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups reported a reduction in expenditure, 75.3% and 75.6% respectively.

Analysis by current work status shows that respondents that were newly labour inactive (those in employment before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and currently not working) were the most likely to report a reduction in expenditure (86.7%).  Respondents that were unemployed prior to and since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented were least likely to report a reduction in expenditure (64.0%).  More than eight in ten (81.3%) of respondents that are currently working reported a reduction in expenditure, with the rate being higher for those working from home (84.5%) than those working outside of home (78.3%).

X-axis labelExperienced reduced expenditure
Employed81.3
Newly labour inactive86.7
Still unemployed64
Labour market inactive77.5

Nearly 83.0% of respondents living in households with children reported a reduction in expenditure.  This was significantly different to those in single adult households (70.0%). Just over 80.0% of respondents living in households consisting of two or more adults reported experiencing a reduction in expenditure.

Respondents who reported that their net income had decreased or hadn’t changed since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions were more likely to experience reduced expenditure (82.0% and 80.2% respectively) compared with those that reported their income had increased (69.8%).  See Table 2.8.

Seven in ten report no change in income

Respondents were asked whether their net income had changed since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions.  Answer options were “Increased”, “Decreased” or “No change”.  Of all respondents, 7.6% said their income had Increased, 22.1% said it had Decreased while 70.3% said there was No change.  There were no significant differences between changes in male and female net incomes -  8.4% of male respondents reported an increase in net income compared with 6.9% of females.

When analysed by age, older respondents reported significantly less change in their net income than other age groups.  More than 92% of respondents aged 70 years and over reported No change.  This compares with 60.8% of those aged 18-34.  One in seven (14.4%) respondents aged 18-34 reported an increase in their net income while a quarter (24.8%) of respondents in this age group reported a decrease in net income.  Nearly three in ten respondents in both the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups reported a decrease in net income since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, 29.4% and 29.2% respectively.

X-axis labelIncreasedDecreasedNo Change
70 and over1.36.492.3
55 to 697.114.978
45 to 544.729.266.1
35 to 445.829.464.8
18 to 3414.424.860.8

Nearly one in ten (9.6%) respondents living in urban areas reported their net income had increased since COVID-19 restrictions.  This is more than double the comparable figure (3.8%) for respondents living in rural areas.  See Table 2.9.

Savings tops the list of items respondents are spending additional available money on

Savings tops the list of items respondents are spending additional available money on due to experiencing reduced expenditure and/or an increase in net income, 56.8% of respondents had additional money available to them.  These respondents were asked what they spent or intend to spend the additional money on.  This was a multiple response question. Options included

  1. Home improvements and furnishings
  2. Garden improvements and furnishings
  3. Clothing
  4. Motor vehicles
  5. Recreational goods
  6. Future holidays
  7. Savings
  8. Debt reduction
  9. Other

The following analysis relates to respondents that had additional money available to them since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions.

Savings was the most commonly reported way respondents intended to use some additional money, with 51.1% of respondents reporting they have or will put all or some of this money aside.  Home improvements and furnishings (46.9%) was the second most popular, followed by Garden improvements and furnishings (36.3%).  More than a quarter (26.3%) of respondents intended to put additional money towards Future holidays with a fifth (21.4%) purchasing Clothing and one in six (16.6%) putting some or all the additional money towards Debt reduction.  Nearly 10% said they spent/intend to spend the additional money on Recreational goods, 8.3% towards Motor vehicles with 8.4% saying they would spend money on Other types of items.

X-axis labelSpending/Intention of Spending with Additional Available Money
Savings51.1
Home Improvements and Furnishings46.9
Garden Improvements and Furnishings36.3
Future Holidays26.3
Clothing21.4
Debt Reduction16.6
Recreational Goods9.5
Motor Vehicles8.3
Other8.4

Nearly four in five (78.3%) respondents aged 18-34 said that they would put some or all additional money available to them towards Savings.  All other age groups had Home improvements and furnishings as the most popular way of spending additional money.

More than 60% of respondents who are currently working said that they saved/intend to save this additional money with 47.2% spending the money on Home improvements and furnishings.  Over a third (34.9%) reported spending/intending to spend on Garden improvements and furnishings with 30.1% putting money towards Future holidays.  Respondents working from home reported that they were more likely to spend their additional money on Home improvements and furnishings compared with those working outside of the home (55.9% and 41.5% respectively).  See Table 2.10.

For further COVID-19 related information go to the CSO COVID-19 Information Hub .

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Show Table: Table 2.1 Personal compliance by demographic, household and other characteristics, April and June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.2 Concern about the compliance of others by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.3 Concern about own health by demographic, household and other characteristics, April and June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.4 Concern about someone else's health by demographic, household and other characteristics, April and June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.5 Weight Change by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.6 Suitable workspace with adequate equipment at home by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.7 Concern about employer's ability to provide a safe working environment by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.8 Reduction in expenditure since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.9 Change in net income since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

Show Table: Table 2.10 Spending/spending intentions with additional available money by demographic, household and other characteristics, June 2020

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