Elderly people still concerned about corona

February 1st 2022

Almost half of participants in the last Big Corona Study think they will work from home more often in the future 

Corona no longer dominates news reports, but particularly older people are still concerned about the pandemic. This is evident from the very last round of the Big Corona Study, which will end after two years and 46 editions.  

Tuesday 29 March saw the 46th and very last wave of the Big Corona Study. The large-scale questionnaire – an initiative of UAntwerp, in cooperation with UHasselt, KU Leuven, ULB and supported by a financial boost from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) – has been running since the crisis broke out in March 2020. In total, the questionnaire was completed more than three million times – an unprecedented number.  

‘After two years, this is a good time to conclude’, social scientist Koen Pepermans (UAntwerp) says. ‘Completing the questionnaire always requires effort from the respondents. Of course, the work of analysing the data also takes up a lot of time and financial resources. We have been able to collect a lot of valuable data: for the coming time we will focus on further analysis of that data.’ 

Another 12,700 Belgians participated in the last ‘wave’. They were asked questions about working from home and its future, and the global approach to the corona crisis. Respondents could also indicate which social developments they were happy or concerned about. The percentages and averages given are always reweighted for sample representativeness against the general Belgian population by age, sex, education level and province. 

Some results: 

  • Two thirds of Belgians are most concerned about the war in Ukraine. Rising energy prices, climate change and increasing inequality between the rich and poor are also common concerns.  Only one in seven mentions the ongoing corona pandemic. Evolutions that make people feel good are the increase in the use of alternative energy sources, the increase in healthy life expectancy and more cooperation in Europe.

 

  • Strikingly, respondents who are financially strong are more concerned about climate change and the war in Ukraine. Those who are struggling financially are more concerned about rising energy prices and the inequality between the rich and poor. There are also age differences: Ukraine and corona are of most concern to older people, while young people are more likely to be concerned about climate change. 

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  • 27.3% believe that all European countries handled the corona pandemic equally well or badly. Respondents who think certain countries did better mentioned Sweden (9.3%), Denmark (7%), Germany (5.1%) and Norway (4.4%) respectively. 3.8% think that Belgium is among the best students in class.  

  • At a global level, respondents believe that New Zealand handled the crisis better. Singapore, South Korea and China did about as well as our country by their estimation. The US, India, Russia and Brazil handled the crisis worse than Belgium.  

  • 44% of respondents believe that they will work from home more often in the future compared to before corona. 33% think that they will work from home just as often. 23% expect to work from home less.  

  • Two out of three people are satisfied with the quality and efficiency working from home provided. The interactions with colleagues (or lack thereof) is the biggest difficulty: 33% are dissatisfied. However, a large majority is satisfied with the quality and efficiency of the work provided by colleagues, and is satisfied with the cooperation and availability of those colleagues.