While more men died from COVID-19, women’s well-being was more negatively affected than men’s during the first year of the pandemic.
In general, men and women’s experiences of life in lockdown tended to differ.
However, when looking at mortality from the coronavirus, more men died from COVID-19 than women, even though pre-pandemic annual mortality rates were higher for men than women in England and Wales.
This is the first in a series of publications coming out over the next few weeks that look at the impacts on people, and the way they have been affected during the coronavirus pandemic.
Working from home, unpaid childcare and household work, across Great Britain and the UK, in 2014 to 2015, March to April 2020, and September to October 2020
September to October 2020 and March to April 2020 periods refer to the population of Great Britain, while the 2014 to 2015 period refers to the UK population. 2014 to 2015 is used as a comparison with before the pandemic because it is the most recent comparable dataset from before the pandemic.
Unpaid household work is unpaid work excluding travel and childcare.
While both men and women spent more time working from home throughout the pandemic, women did more unpaid household work than men.
During September and early October 2020, women spent 64% more time on unpaid household work than men.
The amount of time women spent on unpaid household work fell from an average of 3 hours and 8 minutes per day during 2014 to 2015 to an average of 2 hours and 43 minutes per day during September and early October 2020.
The amount of time men spent on unpaid household work increased from an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes per day during 2014 to 2015, to 1 hour and 58 minutes per day during the end of March and April 2020, before reducing to 1 hour and 40 minutes per day during September and early October.
At the beginning of the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020, women spent 55% more time than men on unpaid childcare. However, this difference is smaller than in September and October 2020, when women spent 99% more time on unpaid childcare than men.
Additionally, a significantly greater proportion of women (67%) than men (52%) homeschooled a school-age child in late January and early February (13 January and 7 February 2021).
In April and early May 2020, around one in three women (34%) reported that their well-being was negatively affected by homeschooling a school age child compared with only one in five men (20%). By late January and early February 2021, it was taking a greater toll on both women (53%) and men (45%).
Anxiety, lonely at some point, and moderate to severe depressive symptoms, Great Britain, March 2020 to January 2021
Respondents were asked "Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?" and answered on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”. High anxiety is defined as a score of 6 to 10.
Respondents were asked “How often do you feel lonely?” Reference to “lonely” refers to the combined proportion of respondents who selected “Often/always”, “Some of the time”, “Occasionally”, and “Hardly ever”.
The depression score is derived using the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8) screener. Moderate to severe symptoms refers to a depression (PHQ-8) score of between 10 and 24 (inclusive). Further details on the methodology are available.
The well-being impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have been wide reaching. Office for National Statistics (ONS) research has shown significantly different levels of anxiety, loneliness and worry about the coronavirus, and depressive symptoms, between men and women during the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, average anxiety scores increased to the highest levels recorded since the ONS began collecting personal well-being data. Women reported significantly higher anxiety than men at almost every point between 20 March 2020 and 7 February 2021, continuing the pre-pandemic trend.
Recent regression analysis found that loneliness was the strongest driver of anxiety in April and May 2020. Analysis found that someone reporting loneliness is up to 4.7 times more likely to also experience high anxiety than someone who says they never feel lonely. Further analysis found that, while controlling for other characteristics such as age, disability and access to essentials, women were 1.3 times more likely to report loneliness than men during this time-period.
The difference between men and women's level of loneliness and depressive symptoms was largest from June 2020 onwards, implying that changes in levels of depression and loneliness were preceded by changes in anxiety.