New research from the Cork-based Central Statistics Office (CSO) has found that young adults have reported the greatest declines in their well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Analysis of CSO well-being data shows that there has been an 80 per cent decrease in the number of young adults aged 18-34 who rated their overall life satisfaction as ‘high’ in April 2020 when compared with the 2018 rate.
By comparison, the corresponding decrease for respondents aged 70 and over was just over 60 per cent.
The Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey captured views on well-being, personal concerns related to certain impacts of COVID-19, changes in consumption behaviour, working life and compliance with official COVID-19 advice.
It found that respondents aged 18-34 were least likely to report ‘high’ satisfaction with their personal relationships in April 2020.
While almost three in five respondents aged 18-34 gave a ‘high’ satisfaction rating for personal relationships in 2018, this fell to under two in five in April 2020.
The CSO survey findings also showed those in the 18-34 year-old age group were most likely to feel nervous (51.2%), downhearted or depressed (45.2%) or lonely (41.5%), at least some of the time in the four-week period prior to interview.
All age groups expressed more concern regarding someone else’s health rather than their own in the survey, but respondents aged 18-34 were most likely to report being Very or Extremely concerned about somebody else’s health (70.5%), and least likely to express concern about their own health (16.0%).
More than four in ten younger adults surveyed reported that the pandemic had a negative financial impact on them, compared to two in ten of respondents aged 70 and over.
The survey also found that younger adults were more likely to have changed their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and junk food.
More than 30 per cent of 18-34 year-olds that consumed alcohol stated that they had increased their alcohol consumption during COVID-19, while almost 23 per cent said they had decreased consumption.
Almost seven in ten 18-34 year-olds said that they had increased their consumption of junk food and sweets.
An EU-wide survey by Eurofound, which was also carried out in April 2020, reported that almost a quarter of this age group in Ireland felt lonely all or most of the time over the two-week period prior to interview - the second highest rate in the 17 EU countries for which data was available.
Commenting on the survey results, Eurofound said that the ‘lowest levels of mental well-being are reported among young people and those looking for work. Loneliness is emerging as a key aspect of mental health with one-fifth of young Europeans feeling the strong impact of pandemic restrictions’.