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The fifth round of Eurofound's e-survey, fielded from 25 March to 2 May 2022, sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe two years after COVID-19 was first detected on the European continent. It also explores the reality of living in a new era of uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine, inflation, and rising energy prices.

The findings of the e-survey reveal the heavy toll of the pandemic, with respondents reporting lower trust in institutions than at the start of the pandemic, poorer mental well-being, a rise in the level of unmet healthcare needs and an increase in the number of households experiencing energy poverty.

Key findings

  • Trust in all institutions and across all Member States continued to fall during the pandemic, with even those respondents who previously expressed higher trust levels, such as people in financially secure positions, becoming less trusting. Non-vaccinated respondents also report much lower trust in institutions than those who are vaccinated, and the gap has widened since 2021 with a trust score of 2.3 out of 10 for the non-vaccinated respondents compared to 5 for the vaccinated.
  • Social media emerges as a key driver of declining trust, with an average trust score of 3 out of 10 for respondents who use social media as their preferred news source, which is much lower than 4.2 for those preferring traditional media. It will be critical for policymakers to combat the spread of misinformation to avoid undermining the stability of the Union in the coming period.
  • Unmet healthcare needs have increased across the EU affecting almost one in five respondents (18%). The backlog in care is highest for hospital and specialist care with unmet mental healthcare, especially for women (24%), having increased since spring 2021, causing particular concern.
  • Mental well-being in the EU remains below the level recorded at the start of the pandemic, despite the phasing out of restrictions. 18- to 29-year-olds still report the lowest levels of mental well-being and although older age groups have improved, the over 60s report a marked deterioration in mental health. This can probably be attributed to the war in Ukraine for which 76% of respondents expressed high or very high concern.
  • A large number of financially vulnerable households were at serious risk of energy poverty in spring 2022. 28% of respondents reported living in a household that is behind on utility bills and has difficulties making ends meet, while 45% of this group are worried they will not be able to pay their utility bills over the next three months.

The factsheet contains the following list of tables and figures.

  • Table 1: Proportion of respondents reporting arrears, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 1: Proportion of people who became unemployed during the pandemic by country, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 2: Location of work across three e-survey rounds (%)
  • Figure 3: Preference to work from home by sex and age (%)
  • Figure 4: Proportion of people in teleworkable jobs who never telework (%)
  • Figure 5: Work–life balance mismatches by sex (% ‘all’ or ‘most of the time’)
  • Figure 6: Mental well-being by age category (scale 1–100)
  • Figure 7: Negative feelings and risk of depression by age category (%)
  • Figure 8: Proportion of people at risk of depression among selected groups (%)
  • Figure 9: Unmet healthcare needs by country, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 10: Unmet needs for healthcare by type of healthcare, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 11: Unmet needs for mental healthcare by age category, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 12: Ability to make ends meet by level of difficulty, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 13: Proportion of respondents with utility bill arrears by housing status, EU27 (%)
  • Figure 14: Correlation between current utility bill arrears and expected payment problems by country (%)
  • Figure 15a: Trust in institutions – mean scores (scale 1–10), EU27
  • Figure 15b: Trust in institutions – spring 2021 questions – mean scores (scale 1–10), EU27
  • Figure 16: Trust in the EU by country and e-survey round – mean scores (scale 1–10), EU27
  • Figure 17: Trust in national government by ability to make ends meet (scale 1–10)
  • Figure 18: Trust in the EU by ability to make ends meet and e-survey round (scale 1–10)
  • Figure 19: Trust in national government by employment status (scale 1–10)
  • Figure 20: Trust in the EU by employment status (scale 1–10)
  • Figure 21: Trust in institutions by preferred news source – mean scores (scale 1–10), EU27
  • Figure 22: Political participation by vaccination status – mean scores, EU27 (%)
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Listen to our Eurofound Talks podcast on 'Living in a new era of uncertainty'

The worst of the Covid pandemic may have passed, but in households across Europe its effects linger longer. Add today’s cost of living crisis, rising inflation and the war in Ukraine to the detrimental impacts of Covid and a distressing picture emerges: of mental health issues - especially among young people - of job loss and job insecurity, and of persistent uncertainty about the future. In this episode of #EurofoundTalks, we speak with Daphne Ahrendt, expert on Eurofound’s unique Living, Working and COVID-19 e-survey, on these very issues. As Daphne explains, the latest phase of the survey reveals many insights that could help policy-makers respond to the extraordinary circumstances of day-to-day living and working in Europe.

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