Quality of life and quality of society during COVID-19

Eurofound’s 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. Two rounds of the e-survey have been carried out to date, allowing for comparison between the first round launched on 9 April, when most Member States were in lockdown, and the second round in July, when society and economies were slowly re-opening. The data cover a range of topics including life satisfaction, happiness, optimism and resilience, health, support and well-being and trust in institutions. Compare the data for each round and explore by country, gender and age.

Key findings

  • Trust in the EU increased in July while trust in national governments declined. The largest increase was in Italy and Spain who were hard hit by the pandemic. Trust in both national governments and the EU is significantly higher among EU citizens that received financial support during the pandemic.
  • Maintaining citizens’ trust in national and European institutions must remain a key focus in times of crisis as compliance with measures to control COVID-19 greatly depends on levels of trust in institutions and scientific advice. The increase in levels of institutional trust reported by respondents who benefited from support measures also sends a clear message to national governments and the EU.
  • Young people are emerging as some of lockdown’s biggest losers who, along with those out of work, report the lowest levels of well-being, despite some improvement since the onset of the pandemic. While life satisfaction and optimism increased since April, young people continue to feel excluded from society and remain at greatest risk of depression showing how restrictions during lockdown affect them more.
  • Women also continue to face a disproportionate impact and remain less optimistic about their future than men - this gap widening further between April and July. The pandemic has also affected the work–life balance of women more than men, with women impacted more in terms of reduced working hours and young women more likely to lose their job than men. In particular, the burden of care responsibilities increased during the pandemic for women. Repairing this damage will be critical to ensure women do not pay disproportionately for the pandemic. 
  • Measures to mitigate the mental health risks of the unemployed and young people will be critical in case of further waves of the Coronavirus. Providing targeted support to allow those seeking work to get back on track and cope with the impact of the pandemic as well as ensuring that young people can fully participate in society must be part of ongoing policy measures. 
  • The survey results demonstrate how the pandemic risks further widening inequalities between socioeconomic groups and across countries. These growing disparities can also impact the stability of the EU and underlines the need to implement fully the European Pillar of Social Rights and to communicate these measures clearly to EU citizens.

Background and data collection

Suggested citation

Eurofound (2020), Living, working and COVID-19 dataset, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19data

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