Emerging evidence seems to suggest that men are hit harder by COVID-19 than women, yet new findings show that women are more worried about the spread of the infection.
In a survey of 2,100 UK citizens, 52% of women said they were very worried about the spread of the virus, compared with 44% of men. This is despite the fact that the women in the sample were equally likely to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 than men. There is also evidence that men are more likely to get severe symptoms and die from the illness than women.
The survey confirms that health-related worries are at the top of everyone’s minds, with 66% of women and 62% of men saying they are concerned or very concerned about a member of their household contracting the virus. Some 60% of women are worried about contracting the virus themselves, compared with 54% of men and 52% are also worried about not being able to obtain medicine or medical treatment in case of need. Meanwhile, only 44% of men have the same concern.
Women are more concerned than men about feeling isolated or not able to reach family and friends in case of need. This is a concern for 43% of women, but only 35% of men mentioned the same degree of worry.
Economic concerns are also on women’s minds, with 33% worried about not being able to pay their bills, rent or mortgage compared with 28% of men. By seven more percentage points, women fear running out of food than men (30% and 23%, respectively).
In general, the survey suggests that everyone is more anxious about their health and the health of family and friends than economic concerns at the moment. However, women show more intense levels of worry than men.
Interestingly, men are marginally more worried about juggling the responsibilities of family life, such as childcare and homeschooling, with work and are more worried about being subject to emotional abuse than women – although these differences are not statistically significant.
Supporting the lockdown
The survey took place between April 10 and 15, when the UK was already in its fourth week of lockdown. With at least three more weeks to follow, 84% of respondents still supported or strongly supported restrictive measures that allow people to leave their homes only for essential reasons. Support for this measure is significantly stronger among women (88%) than men (82%). However, only 50% of respondents support maintaining the lockdown “for at least six months”.
Concerns about the economic effects of the pandemic are reflected in the strong support expressed to suspend mortgage and debt payments for the duration of the crisis, with 81% of women and 72% of men backing such a measure. It is here where we observe the largest difference between men and women, following through on the trend for women to be more concerned about their capacity to pay bills, rent or mortgage as a result of the health crisis.
However, other economic measures such as offering financial support to the self-employed and small businesses received relatively little support among respondents. Only about half of women and men support the measure.