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Well-being

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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).

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

The emotional well-being of respondents was also measured in the April Social Impact of COVID-19 survey while personal satisfaction levels were previously measured in both the April and August rounds of the survey.  Emotional well-being statistics from the November survey are compared with well-being statistics from the April 2020 survey and also with well-being statistics from 2013 and 2018, as collected by the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC).  Personal satisfaction statistics from this survey are compared with results from the August and April 2020 surveys and with those from 2013 and 2018 SILC.

Notwithstanding some methodological differences between the Social Impact of COVID-19 surveys and SILC (See Background Notes), these well-being statistics represent significant periods in Irish society and together provide insight into how the well-being of the Irish people have evolved from 2013, when Ireland was suffering the effects of the 2008 Financial Crisis, to 2018, a time when the Irish economy was growing strongly, to April 2020, when Irish society first endured the impacts of COVID-19, to August 2020 under Level 2 restrictions and now to November 2020 when the people of Ireland were living under Level 5 restrictions.

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In November 2020, the mean overall life satisfaction score was 6.2.  This is the lowest score recorded since this indicator was first collected in 2013.  The mean overall life satisfaction score in April 2020, when COVID-19 related restrictions were first implemented, was 6.5 and this had increased to 7.0 in August 2020, when restrictions were eased to Level 2.  See Table 2.1b and Figure 2.1

X-axis labelMean Overall Life Satisfaction
20137.5
20188.1
April 20206.5
August 20207
November 20206.2
Due to a processing error, the 2013, 2018 and April 2020 values for the Low, Medium and High satisfaction indicators were incorrectly reported.  Figures 2.2 and 2.3, Tables 2.1a, 2.2a and 2.3a, and related text have been corrected as of 11.00am on 13/10/21.

In November 2020 one in ten (10.6%) respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as High, compared with 16.3% in August, 12.1% in April and 44.2% in 2018.  See Table 2.1a and Figure 2.2.

X-axis labelHigh Overall Life Satisfaction
201331.1
201844.2
April 202012.1
August 202016.3
November 202010.6

In November 2020, more than one in three (35.6%) respondents rated their overall life satisfaction as Low. This is the highest rating of Low overall life satisfaction captured in these surveys to date.

Respondents aged 18-34 reported the lowest levels of overall life satisfaction in November 2020 with a mean score of 5.7.  Just 5.0% of respondents in this age group rated their overall life satisfaction as High while 42.1% reported their overall life satisfaction as Low. In 2018, when the economy was growing strongly, the mean overall life satisfaction score for respondents aged 18-34 was 8.3, the highest of all age groups, with nearly one in two (48.8%) rating their overall life satisfaction as High.

The percentage of respondents aged 70 years and over rating their life satisfaction as High dropped from 35.8% in August to 13.8% in November.  The comparable rate in April was 17.2%.

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The mean score for satisfaction with personal relationships was 7.5 in November 2020, a slight reduction on August (7.8) and April (7.7) scores.  The mean score for satisfaction with personal relationships was 8.6 in both 2018 and 2013.  See Table 2.2b.

In November 2020, nearly one in five respondents (19.2%) rated their satisfaction with personal relationships as Low.  This compares with approximately one in six in both August and April 2020 (16.0% and 17.3% respectively) and less than one in twenty in both 2013 and 2018 (5.2% and 5.1% respectively).  Over 42% of respondents rated their satisfaction with personal relationships as High in November.  This is relatively unchanged since April and August (41.9% and 43.1%), yet considerably lower than in 2013 and 2018 (60.0% and 59.7% respectively).  See Table 2.2a.

Male respondents continue to be more likely to rate their satisfaction with personal relationships as High than female respondents, 47.3% compared with 37.8% respectively.  There was little difference between the percentages of male and female respondents that rated their satisfaction with personal relationships as Low – 18.5% and 19.9% respectively.  These were, however, higher than previously recorded in other periods.

Satisfaction with personal relationships increased with age.  Respondents aged 18-34 were least likely to rate their satisfaction with personal relationship as High while those aged 70 years and over were most likely (33.4% and 65.8% respectively).  Conversely, those aged 18-34 were most likely to rate their satisfaction with personal relationships as Low compared with those aged 70 and over (23.3% and 7.5% respectively).  See Figure 2.3.

X-axis label20132018April 2020August 2020November 2020
18-3458.559.236.53433.4
35-4458.757.937.335.637.3
45-545657.441.847.140.2
55-6963.963.139.449.546.8
70 and over65.761.364.45965.8
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In November 2020, the mean score for satisfaction with the financial situation of one’s household was 6.9, relatively unchanged from the 2018 value of 7.1.  See Table 2.3b and Figure 2.4.

X-axis labelMean satisfaction with financial situation
20135.5
20187.1
April 20207
August 20207.1
November 20206.9

Although the mean score is relatively unchanged since 2018, the rate for Low satisfaction with the financial situation of one’s household has increased.  In 2018, just over one in five (22.3%) of respondents reported 'Low' satisfaction.  The rate in November was just over one in four (26.0%).  See Table 2.3a.

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In 2013, 76.5% of respondents reported that they were happy All or Most of the time in the four-week period prior to interview.  This increased to 80.4% in 2018 but decreased to 62.0% in April 2020, and decreased further to 57.4% in November 2020.  See Table 2.4 and Figure 2.5.

X-axis label20132018April 2020November 2020
All/most of the time76.580.46257.4
Some/a little of the time22.417.937.341.7
None of the time1.11.60.60.9

Analysing by age group, shows that respondents aged 70 and over were the most likely to report being happy All or Most of the time in November (73.7%).

In November, male respondents were more likely to report being happy All or Most of the time in the previous four weeks than female respondents (61.7% compared with 53.1%).  These rates are lower than those reported in April (66.0% and 58.3% respectively). In 2018, 81.2% of male respondents and 79.7% of female respondents said they were happy All or Most of the time.

Analysis by marital status shows that respondents that were separated/divorced/widowed showed the greatest decline in happiness since April 2020, with less than one in two (48.3%) stating they were happy All or Most of the time in November, a reduction of 12.3 percentage points from the April percentage (60.6%).

In November 2020, three in five (60.2%) respondents living in an owner-occupied dwelling said they were happy All or Most of the time compared with less than one in two (48.1%) of those living in rented accommodation.

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In November 2020, one in nine (11.4%) respondents reported that they felt very nervous All or Most of the time. The likelihood of respondents reporting that they are very nervous All or Most of the time was higher in November than previously recorded.  In 2013, 5.2% of respondents reported being very nervous All or Most of the time decreasing to 3.8% in 2018 and increasing then to 7.7% in April 2020.  See Table 2.5.

Female respondents were more likely to say they were very nervous All or Most of the time compared with male respondents (14.4% versus 8.4%).  However, the increase since April in feeling this way was less for female respondents than for male respondents when 11.1% and 4.1% respectively felt very nervous All or Most of the time.

Respondents aged 18-34 were most likely to report being very nervous All or Most of the time in November 2020 (19.3%), while those aged 55-69 were least likely (5.0%).

In November, 27.4% of respondents who described their health status as fair/bad/very bad indicated that they were very nervous All or Most of the time, double the April rate of 13.5%.  In November, 7.1% of those with good health and 4.9% of those with very good health reported that they were very nervous All or Most of the time in the four-week period prior to interview.  See Figure 2.6.

X-axis label20132018April 2020November 2020
Very good1.51.25.16.6
Good4.12.32.36.9
Fair/Bad/Very bad13.98.113.726.3
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One in nine (11.5%) respondents reported that they felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time in November 2020, double the equivalent proportion in April 2020 (5.5%).

Female respondents were twice as likely to report that they felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time in November, compared with male respondents (15.5% and 7.3% respectively).  The increase in feeling this way since April was greater for females than males. In April 2020, 5.8% of female respondents and 5.1% of male respondents felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time.

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).

More than a one in four (26.3%) of respondents with a fair/bad/very bad self-reported health status felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time, almost doubling since April 2020 (13.7%).

Nearly one in five (19.3%) of respondents living alone said they felt downhearted or depressed All or Most of the time in November compared with 6.3% in April 2020.  One in nine (11.3%) respondents living in households with children said they felt this way All or Most of the time, up from 4.5% in April.  Respondents living in households consisting of two or more adults and no children had a smaller increase in their likelihood of feeling this way, rising from 6.0% in April 2020 to 9.5% in November.  See Figure 2.7.

X-axis label20132018April 2020November 2020
1 adult6.84.26.319.3
2+ adults4.52.369.5
Households with children4.42.74.511.3
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The percentage of respondents that felt lonely All or Most of the time doubled between April and November 2020, from 6.8% to 13.7%.  See Table 2.7.

Over 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 over a one in four (25.6%) feeling this way.  This is an increase of 15.5 percentage points since April. Those aged 70+ were least like to feel lonely All or Most of the time (4.7%), remaining relatively unchanged since April.

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%).  See Figure 2.8.

X-axis label2018April 2020November 2020
Owner-occupied2.6611
Rented6.38.922.3
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Show Table: Table 2.1a Overall life satisfaction by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April, August and November 2020

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

Show Table: Table 2.2a Satisfaction with personal relationships by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April, August and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.2b Satisfaction with personal relationships by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April, August and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.3a Satisfaction with financial situation by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April, August and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.3b Satisfaction with financial situation by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April, August and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.4 Being Happy by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.5 Being Very Nervous by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.6 Feeling downhearted or depressed by demographic and household characteristics, 2013, 2018, April and November 2020

Show Table: Table 2.7 Feeling lonely by demographic and household characteristics, 2013,2018, April and November 2020

Go to next chapter >>> Concerns and Compliance