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Living, working and COVID-19

Cover of Report 'Living, Working, COVID-19"


Ahrendt, Daphne; Cabrita, Jorge; Clerici, Eleonora; Hurley, John; Leončikas, Tadas; Mascherini, Massimiliano; Riso, Sara; Sándor, Eszter

Key findings

  • People across Europe have experienced an upturn in their situation overall post-lockdown, with increases in working hours and lower levels of job insecurity reported in July compared to April. However, large inequalities between specific groups across the EU have emerged.
  • Despite measures to support those who lost their job being introduced rapidly in many countries, well over half of unemployed respondents did not receive any official financial support since the outbreak of COVID-19, forcing many to rely heavily on informal support. The numbers of those reporting difficulties in making ends meet was highest among unemployed respondents and, in July, this was double that of working households.
  • Young people are emerging as some of lockdown’s biggest losers who, along with those out of work, report the lowest levels of well-being, despite some improvement since the onset of the pandemic. While life satisfaction and optimism increased since April, young people continue to feel excluded from society and remain at greatest risk of depression showing how restrictions during lockdown affect them more.
  • Women also continue to face a disproportionate impact and remain less optimistic about their future than men - this gap widening further between April and July. The pandemic has also affected the work–life balance of women more than men, with women impacted more in terms of reduced working hours and young women more likely to lose their job than men. In particular, the burden of care responsibilities increased during the pandemic for women.
  • Trust in the EU increased in July while trust in national governments declined. The largest increase was in Italy and Spain who were hard hit by the pandemic. Trust in both national governments and the EU is significantly higher among EU citizens that received financial support during the pandemic.


This report presents the findings of the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey, carried out by Eurofound to capture the far-reaching implications of the pandemic for the way people live and work across Europe. The survey was fielded online, among respondents who were reached via Eurofound’s stakeholders and social media advertising. Two rounds of the e-survey have been carried out to date: one in April, when most Member States were in lockdown, and one in July, when society and economies were slowly re-opening.

The findings of the e-survey from the first round reflected widespread emotional distress, financial concern and low levels of trust in institutions. Levels of concern abated somewhat in the second round, particularly among groups of respondents who were benefiting from support measures implemented during the pandemic. At the same time, the results underline stark differences between countries and between socioeconomic groups that point to growing inequalities.

The results confirm the upsurge in teleworking across all countries during the COVID-19 pandemic that has been documented elsewhere, and the report explores what this means for work–life balance and elements of job quality.