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A troubled year: Life satisfaction during the pandemic

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A troubled year: Life satisfaction during the pandemic

By Shih-Yi Chao, Ann Berrington and Brienna Perelli-Harris and edited by Becki Dey & Teresa McGowan

Previous studies have found that mental well-being in the UK declined during the coronavirus pandemic. Few studies, however, have examined which aspects of life satisfaction varied for different population groups during different waves of the pandemic. This policy briefing describes the findings of a study comparing bi-monthly life satisfaction data collected in May 2020 – March 2021 with the same months in 2018-19. The findings show that life satisfaction was consistently lower in 2020-21, and by March 2021 it still had not returned to pre-pandemic levels, with the most disadvantaged people being the least happy. This group already had lower levels of life satisfaction pre-pandemic, but the pandemic has widened the gap. It is vital for policymakers to recognise this disparity to ensure the most vulnerable are not left behind as society reopens.