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Respondents were asked how long they think it will be before their lives return to something similar to what it was pre-COVID-19.

The most common (45.3%) response for when normality will return was Between 1 and 2 years, followed by nearly a third (32.5%) believing that it will be in 6-12 months.  One in nine (11.2%) think pre-COVID-19 life will return in 2 years or more, 6.7% in Less than 6 months, while 4.3% believe that it will Never return to normal.  See Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1.

"" "" "" ""
X-axis labelState
Less than 6 months6.7
6-12 months32.5
Between 1 and 2 years45.3
2 years or more11.2
Never4.3

Male respondents expect that their lives will return to something approaching normality sooner than female respondents, with 43.2% of males expecting this within a year compared with 35.3% of female respondents.  Analysis by age group shows that a lower proportion of those in the 18-34 age category expect their lives to return to normal within a year. Just over three in ten (31.3%) of respondents in this age group expect this compared with over four in ten (40.9%) of those aged 70 and over. Nearly half (47.2%) of respondents aged 55-69 thought normality will return within a year.

One in seven (14.0%) respondents that rated their health status as being fair/bad/very bad felt that their lives will Never return to normal.  This compares with 0.5% of respondents that rated their health status as being very good and 1.7% of those that rated it as good.

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Respondents were asked whether anything in their lives had changed for the better since the COVID-19 outbreak and if they answered positively, they were asked what aspects had improved

Nearly 45% of respondents reported that something in their lives had changed for the better with over one in two (51.0%) of female respondents and almost four in ten (38.4%) of male respondents responding this way.  See Table 4.2.

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.  See Figure 4.2.

X-axis labelState
18-3458.3
35-4455.9
45-5445.3
55-6933.6
70 and over15.9

Three in five (60.4%) respondents that described their health status as very good said that there had been a positive effect on some aspect in their life.  However, only one in three (33.0%) of those that rated their health status as fair/bad/very bad agreed.

More than one in two (53.3%) of respondents living in households with children reported an aspect of their lives had changed for the better, compared with less than one in four (24.6%) of respondents living alone.

Nearly two in three (65.4%) of those working from home because of COVID-19 restrictions said that an aspect of their lives had improved, compared with less one in two (44.9%) of those in employment but not working from home as a result of COVID-19.

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The most reported (28.7%) aspect of survey respondents’ lives to have changed for the better since the COVID-19 outbreak was More quality time with the people I live with.  Nearly 19% of respondents said their finances had improved, 14.5% had More free time for hobbies with 13.4% spending Less time commuting or travelling for work.  Just over 13% said being More in touch with family, friends and neighbours had been a positive impact with 11.6% saying they had Acquired new skills and 10.2% saying they had a Better work-life balance.  Approximately one in eight (12.7%) respondents said that Other aspects of their lives had improved since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.  See Table 4.3 and Figure 4.3.

X-axis labelState
More quality time28.7
Finances improved18.8
Free time for hobbies14.5
Less commuting13.4
More in touch with family,friends and neighbours13.1
Other aspects better12.7
Acquired new skills11.6
Better work life balance10.2

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.  Male respondents were more likely to report Better work life balance (12.1%) and Less time commuting or travelling for work (15.5%) as positive outcomes since the crisis began. The comparable rates for female respondents are 8.4% and 11.4% respectively.  Restricting analysis to employed respondents shows that 23.0% of male workers and 15.0% of female workers felt Better work life balance was an improvement in their lives.  Similar rates were reported for Less time commuting or travelling for work (22.6% and 16.6% respectively).

The percentage reporting Improved finances declined with age, decreasing from 30.7% for those aged 18-34 to 7.6% for those aged 70 years and over.

Respondents living in households with children were more likely to say More quality time with the people I live with was an aspect of life that had changed for the better than those living with other adults only (44.1% versus 24.7%).  Those living in households with children were also more likely to say that Better work life balance and Less time commuting or travelling for work were benefits than those living in households without children.  Improved finances were reported by approximately 20% of those living in households with other people compared to 9.6% of those living on their own.  See Figure 4.4.

X-axis label1 adult2+ adultsHouseholds with children
More quality time024.744.1
More in touch
with family,
friends and
neighbours
12.911.115.7
Better work
life balance
2.79.513.8
Less commuting4.212.318.2
Free time
for hobbies
11.314.116
Acquired new
skills
12.911.511.3
Finances
improved
9.620.120.5
Other aspects
better
8.215.610.8

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).

Employed persons working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions were more likely to say that each aspect of life had changed for the better than those not working at home.  Respondents working from home were more likely to report that Better work-life balance was a positive aspect (35.2% compared with 9.9%).  They were also more likely to report that their finances had improved since the onset of COVID-19 (36.8% compared with 22.3%).

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Respondents working at home due to COVID-19 restrictions were asked, as time progresses, how they were finding working from home – More difficult, Easier or No difference.

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.  A higher percentage of female respondents reported finding working from home More difficult compared with their male counterparts (29.8% vs 25.5%).  See Table 4.4.

The proportion of respondents that found working from home More difficult or Easier as time progress both decreased with age.  Three in ten (29.0%) of those aged 18-34 felt that working from home was getting More difficult compared with 13.3% of those aged 55-69. Four in ten (41.0%) of those aged 18-34 found working from home Easier compared with 23.2% of those aged 55-69. Older respondents were more likely to report that there was No difference working from home.  See Figure 4.5.

X-axis labelNo differenceEasierMore difficult
18-34304129
35-4433.83828.1
45-5436.83726.2
55-6963.523.213.3

More than one in two (52.5%) of respondents that rated their health status as fair/bad/very bad said that they found working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions More difficult as time goes by.  This is more than double the proportion for those that rated their health status as very good and good (23.8% and 22.0% respectively).

Over four in ten (41.7%) of respondents living in households with children reported that they found working from home Easier as time progresses.  This compares with 38.1% of those living alone and 32.7% of those living in households consisting of two or more adults only. One in six (16.0%) of respondents living alone found working from home More difficult compared with approximately 28% for both those living in households with two or more adults and those living in households with children.

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Respondents working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions were asked, after restrictions are lifted, would they like to Remain working from home or Return to place of work.  They could also respond that they would prefer a Mixture of both. This question had previously been asked of respondents to the Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey in April, approximately a month after COVID-19 restrictions were first implemented.

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 38.8% of respondents working from home due to restrictions in April.  Less than one in four (22.6%) respondents said they would prefer to Remain working from home exclusively, up from 6.8% in April. One in six respondents (61.0%) preferred a Mixture of both in November, an increase on the April rate of 54.4%.  See Table 4.5 and Figure 4.6.

X-axis labelMixture of bothReturn to place of workRemain working from home
November6116.422.6
April54.438.86.8

Over 27% of respondents living in households with children would prefer to Remain working from home exclusively and under 64% would prefer a Mixture of both.  Just over 9% said they would prefer to Return to place of work.  Less than one in four (23.4%) respondents living alone said they would prefer to Remain working from home with one in six (16.6%) preferring to Return to place of work in futureConversely, more respondents living in households consisting of two or more adults reported they would prefer to Return to place of work rather than Remain working from home (22.9% versus 18.4%).

More than two in five (41.6%) respondents living in rural areas reported that they would prefer to Remain working from home in future.  This is more than double the rate for respondents living in urban areas (17.8%).  Nearly 18.5% of urban respondents would prefer to Return to place of work compared with 7.9% of rural respondents.  Nearly two in three (63.7%) and one in two (50.5%) of urban and rural respondents respectively would prefer a Mixture of both.

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In April 2020, approximately five weeks after COVID-19 restrictions had been introduced, survey respondents were asked how, if at all, their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and junk food and sweets had changed since these COVID-19 restrictions were introduced.  These questions were repeated in the November survey,

For each consumption item (alcohol, tobacco and junk food and sweets) respondents could answer “Increased”, “Decreased”, “No change” and could also indicate that they did not partake in the behaviour.  Please note that respondents of the Social Impact of COVID-19 survey were all aged 18 years and over.  Results outlined below are limited to those that partake in the behaviour.

The proportion of respondents reporting that their alcohol consumption was higher than before the COVID-19 crisis remained relatively unchanged between April and November (22.2% and 21.1% respectively). However, more than one in four (26.8%) of November respondents reported that they had Decreased alcohol consumption compared with approximately one in six (17.2%) respondents in April.  See Table 4.6 and Figure 4.7.

X-axis labelNo changeDecreasedIncreased
November52.226.821.1
April60.617.222.2

When comparing alcohol consumption to pre-COVID-19 levels, almost one in four (24.7%) female respondents to the November survey reported that their alcohol consumption had Decreased, compared with just 8.6% of female respondents to the April survey.  The November and April rates for male respondents reporting a decrease in alcohol consumption were 28.8% and 26.0% respectively.

The proportion of male respondents that said their alcohol consumption had Increased since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis has dropped from 20.9% in April to 18.0% in November while the equivalent rates for female respondents were relatively unchanged (23.4% and 24.3%).

Analysis by age of the respondents to the April and November surveys, shows that a higher proportion of November respondents in each age group reported that their alcohol consumption was lower than before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.  In November 35.5% of those in the 18-34 age category reported that their consumption had Decreased compared with 22.9% in April.

Although the overall proportion of respondents reporting that their alcohol consumption was higher than before the COVID-19 crisis remained relatively unchanged between April and November, analysis by age shows that a higher proportion of older respondents reported an increase in alcohol consumption in November when compared with April. In November, 18.2% of respondents aged 70 and over reported an increase in alcohol consumption compared with 7.4% in April.

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In November, a greater proportion of respondents that consume tobacco products reported that their tobacco consumption was 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 had Increased, 30.5% in April to 27.4% in November.  See Table 4.7.

In November, female respondents were more likely to report an increase in tobacco consumption when compared with male respondents (29.8% and 24.2%).  Female respondents were also more likely to report that their current tobacco consumption is lower than before the COVID-19 crisis. Almost one in four (23.0%) of female respondents reported that their current tobacco consumption is lower than before the COVID-19 crisis compared with less than one in ten (9.5%) of male respondents.  See Figure 4.8.

X-axis labelNo ChangeDecreasedIncreased
Female47.22329.8
Male 66.39.524.2
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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.  See Table 4.8.

The percentage of female respondents reporting this increase fell from 54.3% in April to 46.8% in November, whereas the percentage of male respondents reporting an increase in this consumption type remained relatively unchanged (35.6% in April and 35.0% in November).

Analysis by age shows that respondents in the 18-34 age group have the greatest fall in proportions reporting an increase in junk food and sweets, falling from 69.0% in April to 50.3% in November.  As age increases the proportion of respondents reporting an increase in junk food consumption decreased. Just under 23% of respondents aged 70 years and over said that their junk food consumption was higher than before the COVID-19 crisis.  See Figure 4.9.

X-axis labelApril November
18-346950.3
35-4442.946.3
45-5444.443.9
55-6927.129.6
70 and over29.522.9

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

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Show Table: Table 4.1. How long before life will return to something similar to what it was pre COVID-19 by demographic and household characteristics, November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.2 Whether anything in life has changed for the better since the COVID-19 crisis by demographic household and other characteristics, November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.3 Aspects of life that have changed for the better since the COVID-19 crisis by demographic household and other characteristics, November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.4 As time progresses, how finding working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions by demographic and household characteristics, November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.5 Future work preferences for those working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions by demographic and household characteristics, April and November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.6 Changes in alcohol consumption since before the COVID-19 crisis by demographic and household characteristics, April and November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.7 Changes in tobacco consumption since before the COVID-19 crisis by demographic and household characteristics, April and November 2020

Show Table: Table 4.8 Changes in junk food and sweets consumption since before the COVID-19 crisis by demographic and household characteristics, April and November 2020

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