Women have more COVID fear than men: Study

·2-min read

A "stark" worry gap has emerged since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with women twice as likely as men to be extremely worried about their lives, research suggests.

Women are now disproportionately bearing the burden of increased worries about parents, children, education and work-life balance, the UK's National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) said.

Almost a fifth of women reported they were extremely worried about most areas of their life they were asked about in January 2022, compared with nine per cent of men.

There was little difference in levels of worry between men and women when they were questioned in 2018 and 2019, before the pandemic swept through Britain.

The findings are published in NatCen's annual Society Watch report, which in 2022 examined the social legacy of COVID-19.

Researchers studied data collected via the NatCen Panel, a nationally representative sample of adults across Britain comprising 2199 people in January 2018, 2048 people in January 2019 and 1122 people in January 2022.

Overall levels of worry have remained broadly stable over the three years, but this conceals a "previously unseen" gap between women and men.

This appears to be greatest with regard to the health and wellbeing of respondents' families.

Almost three times more mothers (23 per cent) than fathers (eight per cent) reported being "extremely worried" about their lives.

More than half of women were extremely worried about the health and wellbeing of their parents (52 per cent) and children (53 per cent) compared with 32 per cent and 34 per cent of men respectively.

Twice as many women were experiencing "intergenerational worries" about their children and parents than men - 43 per cent versus 21 per cent.

And 31 per cent of women were extremely worried about their work-life balance, compared with 20 per cent of men.

"While overall levels of worry appear to be the same in 2022 as they were pre-pandemic, this conceals a stark 'worry gap' that has opened up between women and men," Josefien Breedvelt, NatCen director of analysis and co-author of the research, said.

"The pandemic increased the burden on many women who often had to deal with additional caring pressures, while many female-dominated sectors - from care work to the service industry - were particularly badly hit.

"Women may still be experiencing a greater impact from the ongoing legacy and stress that the pandemic brought about.

"If ongoing challenges from the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis fall disproportionately on women, we may see an even greater divergence in levels of worry."

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