Democracy and trust during COVID-19

Eurofound’s unique e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, provides a snapshot of the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives, with the aim of helping policymakers to bring about an equal recovery from the crisis. Three rounds of the e-survey have been carried out to date.

  • Round 1: Launched on 9 April 2020 when most Member States were in their first lockdown
  • Round 2: July 2020 when economies and societies were gradually reopening
  • Round 3: March 2021, almost a year on, as countries were still dealing with various levels of lockdown to curb the spread of new strains of the virus, while vaccination programmes were rolled out.

The data cover a range of topics including trust in institutions, trust in people, trust in science, satisfaction with democracy and use of (social) media. Compare the data for each round and explore by country, gender and age.

Key findings

  • Trust in institutions has plummeted, especially trust in national governments which fell from 4.6 in summer 2020 to 3.9 in spring 2021. 14 Member States saw a significant drop since 2020, and trust in national governments across all Member States sank below levels recorded at the start of the pandemic. Trust in the EU also fell but remains higher than trust in national governments.  
  • To restore trust in Governments and the EU, it will be essential to understand and address people’s needs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. The future of Europe debate has an important role to play in reaching out and listening to citizens’ concerns particularly as the EU recovers from the pandemic and moves to a greener, more digital EU economy.   
  • To prevent those hardest hit by the impact of the crisis from falling further behind, policymakers will need to take a holistic approach to the provision of support. Failure to prevent the continued rise of inequalities among citizens and between Member States risks further undermining trust of Europeans in their institutions, as well as triggering political discontent. 

Background and data collection

Suggested citation

Eurofound (2020), Living, working and COVID-19 dataset, Dublin,

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In light of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, it should be noted that data published on the Eurofound website may include the 28 EU Member States, as the UK was covered in earlier research. This will be progressively amended to reflect the current composition of the 27 EU Member States.