COVID: Women twice as likely as men to be extremely worried about their lives post-pandemic, study suggests

·2-min read

A "stark" worry gap has emerged since the COVID pandemic, with a study suggesting women are twice as likely as men to be extremely worried about their lives.

Women are now disproportionately bearing the burden of worrying about parents, children, education and work-life balance, according to the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

While just 9% of men said they were extremely worried about most areas of their life, a fifth of women said they felt the same.

The findings from the study, which was carried out in January, were published as part of NatCen's annual Society Watch report.

It aimed to examine the social legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic by asking a nationally representative sample about their worry levels and comparing the answers to those collected in 2018 and 2019.

Overall the amount that people worry has remained broadly stable over the three years, but researchers have warned that this conceals a "previously unseen" gap between women and men.

The largest difference in levels of worry seems to be in regard to the health and wellbeing of respondents' families, with almost three times more mothers than fathers being extremely worried about their lives.

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

A total of 31% of women were extremely worried about their work-life balance, compared with 20% of men.

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"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," the study's co-author Josefien Breedvelt said.

"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 between men and women in Britain."

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