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Introduction and Summary of Results

This release has been compiled during the COVID-19 crisis. The results contained in this release reflect some of the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 situation. For further information see Background Notes

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The fourth round of the Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey was undertaken to measure the impact COVID-19 has had on Irish society in November 2020. This survey was carried out between Thursday 12 November and Wednesday 18 November and was based on a sample of 5,105 persons aged 18 years and over. The survey utilised an online electronic questionnaire to produce a final achieved sample size of 1,585 individuals.

The topics covered in this publication include well-being, changes in consumption, compliance with official COVID-19 advice and positive impacts on life since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Analysis is provided across key personal and household demographic characteristics, reflecting how COVID-19 has impacted different people in different ways.

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The main results of the fourth round of the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey are presented below.

Appropriateness of Level 5 response to managing COVID-19 related risk 

  • Over 71% of respondents reported that the Level 5 response was Appropriate, 18.3% felt it was Too extreme with 10.2% believed it was Not sufficient. Analysis by age shows that the likelihood of a respondent feeling that the Level 5 response was Appropriate increased with age, with 63.2% of respondents aged 18-34 agreeing that the Level 5 response was Appropriate rising to 88.2% for those aged 70 years and over.
  • Conversely, the likelihood of a respondent feeling that the Level 5 was Too extreme decreased with age, falling from 23.1% for those aged 18-34 to 5.2% for those aged 70 years and over.

Well-being

  • In November 2020, more than one in three (35.6%) of respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as Low.  This compares with 29.6% in April 2020 and 8.7% in 2018.
  • The likelihood of respondents reporting that they were very nervous All or Most of the time in the four-week period prior to interview was higher in November (11.4%) than in April 2020 (7.7%).
  • In November 2020, respondents aged 18-34 were most likely to report being very nervous All or Most of the time (19.3%), while those aged 55-69 were least likely (5.0%).
  • The percentage of respondents that felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time in the four-week period prior to interview doubled between April and November 2020, from 5.5% to 11.5%.
  • Female respondents were twice as likely to report that they felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time than male respondents (15.5% versus 7.3%).
  • Analysis by age shows that in November, respondents aged 18 to 34 were most likely to report being downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time (18.6% increasing from 11.1% in April 2020). Those aged 55-69 and 70 years and over were least likely to report being downhearted and depressed All or Most of the time (6.0 and 6.1% respectively).
  • The percentage of respondents that felt lonely All or Most of the time in the four-week period prior to interview doubled between April and November 2020, from 6.8% to 13.7%.
  • More than 17% of female respondents felt lonely All or Most of the time compared with 9.9% of male respondents.
  • Younger respondents, i.e. those aged 18-34, were most likely to feel lonely All or Most of the time with more than one in four (25.6%) feeling this way. This is an increase of 15.5 percentage points since April (10.1%). Those aged 70 and over were least like to feel lonely All or Most of the time (4.7%), remaining relatively unchanged since April (4.6%).
  • Respondents living in rented accommodation were twice as likely to report feeling lonely All or Most of the time in November than those in owner-occupied dwellings (22.3% vs 11.0%).

Aspects of life that has changed for the better since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis

  • Nearly 45% of respondents reported that something in their lives has changed for the better since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis with over one in two (51.0%) women and almost four in ten (38.4%) men reporting this.
  • As age increased, the percentage reporting a positive change decreased, declining from 58.3% for those aged 18-34 to 15.9% for those aged 70 years and over.
  • Almost three in ten (28.7%) reported More quality time with the people I live with as an aspect of their lives that has changed for the better.
  • Nearly 19% of respondents said their finances have improved and 14.5% have More free time for hobbies.
  • Similar percentages of workers reported a Better work-life balance and Less time commuting or travelling for work as aspects of their lives that have improved since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis (18.8% and 19.4%) respectively.
  • Exactly 23% of male workers and 15% of female workers felt Less time commuting or travelling for work was an improvement in their lives. Similar figures were reported for Better work-life balance (22.6% and 16.6% respectively).
  • Female respondents were more likely to report that More quality time with the people I live with (33.2%) and being More in touch with family, friends and neighbours (14.6%) as aspects of their lives that have changed for the better. The comparable male rates are 23.9% and 11.5% respectively.

Changes in consumption.

  • The proportion of respondents reporting that their alcohol consumption is higher than before the COVID-19 crisis remained relatively unchanged between April and November (22.2% and 21.1% respectively).
  • More than one in four (26.8%) of November respondents reported that they have Decreased alcohol consumption since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, compared with approximately one in six (17.2%) of respondents in April.
  • When comparing alcohol consumption to pre-COVID levels, almost one in four (24.7%) of female respondents to the November survey reported that their alcohol consumption has Decreased, compared with just 8.6% of female respondents to the April survey.
  • In November, a greater proportion of respondents that consume tobacco products reported that their tobacco consumption is lower than pre-COVID-19 levels, when compared to the April rate (17.4% versus 8.6%). There was a small decrease in the percentage of respondents that said their consumption has Increased since pre-COVID-19 levels, 30.5% in April to 27.4% in November.
  • Overall the percentage of respondents reporting an increase in the consumption of junk food and sweets since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis has fallen from 45.4% in April to 41.3% in November.

Compliance and other results

  • In November 2020, when the country was living under Level 5 restrictions, almost two-thirds (65.2%) rated their compliance with current government advice and guidelines as High, compared with four in five (80.6%) in April, approximately a month after initial COVID-19 restrictions were first implemented.
  • In November 68.2% of female respondents rated their compliance as High compared with 62.2% of male respondents.
  • Overall, respondents believed they were less likely to contract COVID-19 in November than in April.  In November 84.0% of respondents believed they had a Low chance of getting infected with COVID-19 and 16.0% believed that they had a ‘Medium’ or ‘High’ chance. The comparable rates in April were 76.3% and 23.7%.
  • Just under 7% of respondents believed that within the next six months their lives will return to something like it was pre-COVID, nearly a third (32.5%) believe that it will be Between six and twelve months, 45.3% believe that it will be Between 1 and 2 years and 11.2% believe that it will be 2 years or more before this happens. Just over 4% believe that their lives will Never return to normal.
  • Of those working from home, 27.3% said they were finding it More difficult, 37.0% said it was getting Easier while 35.6% said there was No difference as time passes.
  • In November one in six (16.4%) respondents working from home because of restrictions reported that they would prefer to Return to place of work compared to over one in three (38.8%) of respondents working from home due to restrictions in April.
  • Less than a one in four (22.6%) of respondents said they would prefer to Remain working from home exclusively, up from 6.8% in April. More than 61% preferred a Mixture of both in November, an increase on the April rate of 54.4%.
  • More than two in five (41.6%) respondents living in rural areas would prefer to Remain working from home in future, more than double the rate for respondents living in urban areas (17.8%).

Personal concerns related to COVID-19

  • In November 2020, 27.8% of respondents reported being Very or Extremely concerned about their own health. This is higher than the rates reported in April (25.8%).
  • More than half (56.2%) of respondents reported being Very or Extremely concerned about somebody else’s health in November 2020. This is lower than the April figure of 63.4%.
  • In November two in five (40.3%) respondents reported that they were Very or Extremely concerned about maintaining social ties, an increase on April’s figure when less than a third (32.4%) of respondents felt this way
  • In November three in five (60.0%) respondents said they were Very or Extremely concerned about other people’s ability to comply with government advice and guidelines compared with 47.7% in June.
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The results presented in this publication have been weighted to best reflect the population.  Due to time and resource constraints, there were limitations on the sample size and selection methodology.  Consequently, caution must be exercised when making inferences to the entire population from these results.  Nonetheless, this data provides a valuable insight into the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of many people in Ireland.  For further details on the survey methodology, see Background Notes.

A second publication focusing on survey questions related to Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey November 2020:  Perceptions and Expectations around Christmas and International Travel is to be published on Tuesday 1 December. 

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