Well-being patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic

January 25, 2024

This study investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected multi-dimensional capability well-being in seven European countries, with a special emphasis on Portugal. The question at hand is how the pandemic and associated containment measures have impacted people’s capability to lead fulfilling lives, a crucial aspect of overall health and well-being. The study spans from April 2020 to January 2022, utilizing a cross-sectional population survey with nine waves of data. The main focus is on changes in well-being across different countries and demographic subgroups.

The findings reveal diverse patterns of well-being changes across the surveyed countries. Denmark, the Netherlands, and France experienced a U-shaped trend in well-being, with the lowest points in late 2020. Conversely, the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, and Italy showed an M-shaped pattern, marked by initial recovery, a subsequent decline in late 2020, followed by a rebound in summer 2021, and a decline again in late 2021. Among the well-being dimensions, attachment and enjoyment saw the most significant long-term declines. Younger individuals, those in financially unstable situations, and those with poorer health experienced larger and more frequent declines.

Well-being (measured by Mean ICECAP-A utility score) in different countries over time, by health status.
Caption: Well-being (measured by Mean ICECAP-A utility score) in different countries over time, by health status.

Portugal’s case is particularly notable. Its well-being pattern mirrored the M-shape trend, with significant fluctuations. This highlights the impact of the pandemic on Portuguese society, especially among vulnerable subgroups. The study underscores the need for further investigation into the underlying mechanisms driving these patterns, suggesting a nuanced and multifaceted impact of the pandemic on well-being across Europe.

Click here to go to the paper by Sebastian Himmler, Job van Exel, Werner Brouwer, Sebastian Neumann‐Böhme, Iryna Sabat, Jonas Schreyögg, Tom Stargardt, Pedro Pita Barros, and Aleksandra Torbica.


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