Expectations about when life will return to pre-COVID normal vary widely across the world

Almost half of adults say their mental health has worsened during the pandemic, but nearly one quarter say it improved since the beginning of 2021

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
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A new Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum finds that, on average across 30 countries and markets surveyed, 59% expect being able to return to something like their normal pre-COVID life within the next 12 months, including 6% who think this is already the case, 9% who think it will take no more than three months, 13% four to six months, and 32% seven to 12 months (the median time). About one in five think it will take more than three years (10%) or that it will never happen (8%).

Views on when to expect a return to normal vary widely across countries: Over 70% of adults in Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, and mainland China are confident their life will return to pre-COVID normal within a year. In contrast, 80% in Japan and more than half in France, Italy, South Korea, and Spain expect it will take longer.

At a global level, expectations about how long it will take before one’s life can return to its pre-COVID normal and how long it will take for the pandemic to be contained are nearly identical. These findings suggest that people across the world consider that being able to return to “normal” life is entirely dependent on containing the pandemic.

An average of 45% of adults globally say their mental and emotional health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago. However, almost as many say it has improved since the beginning of the year (23%) as say it has worsened (27%).

The survey was conducted among more than 21,000 adults under the age of 75 between February 19, 2021 and March 5, 2021 on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online platform.

Read the World Economic Forum article.

How long before coronavirus pandemic is contained?

Similar to life returning to pre-COVID normal, 58% on average across all markets surveyed expect the pandemic to be contained within the next year, including 13% who think this is already the case or will happen within 3 months, 13% between four and six months and 32% between seven and 12 months (the median time in most markets).

Majorities in India, mainland China, and Saudi Arabia think the pandemic is already contained or will be within the next 6 months. In contrast, four in five in Japan and more than half in Australia, France, Poland, Spain, and Sweden expect it will take more than a year.

Change in emotional and mental health since beginning of the pandemic about a year ago

On average across the 30 countries and markets surveyed, 45% of adults say their emotional and mental health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago, three times the proportion of adults who say it has improved (16%)

In 11 countries, at least half report a decline in their emotional and mental health with Turkey (61%), Chile (56%), and Hungary (56%) showing the largest proportions.

Only in mainland China, India, and Saudi Arabia do more adults report an improvement in their emotional and mental health than a decline.

Change in emotional and mental health since beginning of 2021

Adults who say their emotional and mental health has improved outnumber those who say it has worsened by at least 40 percentage points in China (51 points) and India (41 points).

Those who say their mental and emotional health has improved since the start of 2021 are most outnumbered by those who say it has worsened in Hungary (by 30 points), France (29 points), and Italy (26 points).

This 30-market Global Advisor survey was conducted between Friday February 19 and Friday March 5, 2021 via the Ipsos Online Panel system among 21,011 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 24 other markets.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US

Society