New Study Reveals Impact of Lockdown on Wellbeing in France and UK

Insights have been released from a comparative study highlighting how the Covid-19 lockdown has impacted lifestyle consumption patterns and wellbeing in France and the UK.

The research was conducted by Emlyon Business School’s Lifestyle Research Centre to shed light on how lockdown has created changes in mental health and wellbeing as well as in everyday behaviours.

1000 respondents were surveyed, split evenly across France and the UK near the end of the lockdown period in May 2020.

Professor Joonas Rokka, Director of the Lifestyle Research Center at emlyon said: “It’s clear from our research that people in the UK and France are definitely split between those who thrived and those who suffered during the lockdown”.

“The single most important factors explaining the likelihood to belong to the most thriving group or suffering in terms of overall wellbeing were changes in financial situation, number of people living together, marital status, gender and age”.

Lockdown’s reported impact on physical health

The study looked at a number of areas of everyday life affected by the lockdown. These included: changes in individuals’ physical and psychological wellbeing; work/study situation and financial situation. Consumption patterns examined included eating habits; socialising; exercising and media consumption. The researchers looked at respondent’s wellbeing in relation to their gender, age, marital status, education/professional background, household size and income during lockdown.

Respondents’ wellbeing profiles were determined as either: Thriving, Oscillating, Stable, Withering or Apathetic. These were based on similarities in terms of several social-psychological factors, as well as frequency and strength of positive or negative emotions throughout lockdown.

Thriving – 20% of the UK, and 21% across both countries

This group reported the most positive overall wellbeing, based off a number of psychological measures including the frequency of strong positive emotions (such as joy, happiness, contentment) compared to negative ones (such as fear, anger, sadness) during the lockdown. Most likely to include members with the following characteristics:

  • Majorly increased physical health
  • No impact on household finances
  • Generally high net income
  • Living with a number of people
  • Married
  • Women
  • 45+ years old

Oscillating – 17% of the UK, and 20% across both countries

Second best overall wellbeing was found in this group, where the respondent experienced strong positive emotions, and some negative emotions too during the lockdown. Characterized by:

  • Slight changes in physical health either for better or worse
  • Little or no impact on their household finances
  • Generally high net income
  • Living with a number of people

Stable – 17% of the UK, and 18% across both countries

Where the respondent reported virtually no strong positive or negative emotions during the lockdown. Characterized by:

  • No change in their physical health
  • Little impact on their household finances
  • An average net income

Withering – 32% of the UK, and 28% across both countries

Negative wellbeing was reported in this group, where the respondent also experienced a higher frequency of negative emotions compared to positive during the lockdown. Characterized by:

  • A slight decrease in physical health
  • Significant impact on their household finances
  • A low net income
  • Lived in the UK, not France

Apathetic – 13% of the UK, and 12% across both countries

The most negative overall wellbeing, where the respondent experienced frequent and strong negative emotions during the lockdown. Characterized by:

  • A strong decrease in physical health
  • Very significant impact on their household finances
  • A low net income
  • Lived alone
  • Single
  • Male
  • 18-24 years old

As governments around the world consider how to respond to flare ups of Covid-19 cases, this study sheds useful light on the impact of lockdown on physical and mental wellbeing.

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About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times


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