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COVID-19 Study Reveals Age, Wealth and Social Status Disparities When Analyzing Behaviors Dealing With Pandemic

Last updated August 6th, 2020

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NEW YORK – HealthCare.com today released a new study conducted to better understand how individuals are adjusting to the mental effects of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. In seeking to find out how life has changed across America, the survey asked a range of questions connected to individual behaviors and moods, breaking down the results by age, education and wealth, and gender.

For full survey results, visit: https://www.healthcare.com/coronavirus-changes-lifestyles-across-country-127245

The survey showed that overall, almost seven out of 10 are avoiding close contact with other people (69% are staying at least six feet away from others) and 67% are washing their hands more often. About one-third (31%) of survey participants have canceled travel plans and 58% have been inside, at various points, for at least two days in a row. Just under a quarter (23%) of participants admitted to stockpiling food. But in light of new government recommendations for wearing some type of face covering, under one in five (19%) of those surveyed reported wearing masks or gloves in public.

However, there were disparities in behavior by age groups and education levels. Among those 55 and older, almost eight in ten of respondents say they avoid public places (78%), don’t get closer than six feet from others (79%) and wash their hands more often (77%) compared to just 58%, 55%, and 57%, respectively, of the Gen Z and millennial generations ages 18 to 34.

This is in comparison to a HealthCare.com survey conducted in March that found only 20% of adults were avoiding public places.

Overall, 37% of younger adults say their daily online “screen time” has increased at least four hours a day, versus just 21% of those age 55 and older. This is due to working online from home, increased screen time watching movies via streaming services and reading or watching the news, among other reported results.

Yet even with extra screen time and new pursuits, it has not brightened the younger generation’s mood. While the state of mind has worsened for all age groups, higher percentages of 18-to-34-year-olds reported feeling more anxious/nervous/worried (48%, vs. 43% of ages 55 and older), sad/depressed (33% vs. 26%), lonely (29% vs. 15%), or lazy (34% vs. 19%) than their counterparts who are 55 and older.

Turning to education and wealth, the survey found the less affluent people are, the less likely they are in believing recommended protections. The findings found 81% of adults who have no more than a high school degree and 83% with annual incomes under $40,000 say social distancing will reduce the number of infections compared to 92% and 91%, respectively, of people with four-year college degrees or incomes of at least $80,000.

In one of the survey’s widest disparities, just 16% and 12%, respectively, of lower-income and less educated people have worked from home since the outbreak began, compared to 42% and 44%, respectively, of higher earners and those with four-year degrees. However, high-school-educated (or less) and poorer individuals are more confident about the crisis, praying more than others, but reporting fewer negative emotions surrounding the virus.

Women are more likely to avoid public places than men (73% versus 66%) and remain at home for stretches of at least two days in a row (65% compared to 51%). Yet women’s moods have spun further downward, mostly when it comes to being anxious/nervous/worried more than men (49% to 43%), feeling sadder/depressed (32% to 25%) and becoming lazier (28% to 21%). Men were more likely to report being angrier (20% versus 16%).

The survey results show that while the country is acknowledging the pandemic more than it had a month ago, the stark lines between age, wealth, gender and political affiliations are keeping behaviors and attitudes further apart on many fronts.


HealthCare.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2,491 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between April 1-3, 2020. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a non-probability-based sample using both quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results. The survey has a margin error of two percentage points, plus or minus.

About HealthCare.com

HealthCare.com is an online health insurance company providing a data-driven shopping platform that helps American consumers enroll in individual health insurance and Medicare plans. HealthCare.com also develops and markets a portfolio of proprietary, direct-to-consumer health insurance, and supplemental insurance products under the name Pivot Health. Founded in 2014, the company is headquartered in New York City and is backed by PeopleFund and individual investors including current and former executives of Booking.com and Priceline. HealthCare.com is a 4-time honoree of the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more info, visit www.healthcare.com.

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