Canadians worry about the pandemic impacting others

Data from Abacus suggests younger people, in particular, spend more time thinking about societal impacts than their own finances.

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Younger people are much more likely to perceive the immediate negative impacts of COVID on their own lives than older demographics, but are also more concerned about the fate of others than things like their own finances.

The survey, commissioned by humanitarian aid charity World Vision Canada and conducted by Abacus, polled 2,087 Canadian adults. It shows that 51% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 are concerned about their jobs vanishing (21% think about it “a great deal”).

It is almost the same for those between 30 and 44, 50% of whom are worried about employment. However, 49% are concerned about being able to save for retirement, compared to 40% of those under 30 who said the same.

Younger Canadians are more likely to say their mental and emotional health has been impacted more than others: 31% feel their emotional health is worse than others, compared with 30% for those between 30 and 44 and only 14% for seniors. And surprisingly, younger people are also more concerned about their physical health than seniors (21% versus 14%).

Their worries are extending outward too. As a group, the youngest cohort of Canadians is considerably more concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having on social cohesion – 56% for those under 30, versus only 45% for the 60-plus set. While Canadians across age groups seem to be concerned about the impact the pandemic will have on the world’s poor – between 50% and 60%, depending on the demographic – younger generations are more concerned with it causing greater inequality in society. Canadians as a whole, however, seem to be taking more of a “we’re all in this together” approach: across different factors, they are more likely to say they are currently faring better or the same than others than they are to see themselves as worse off.

The generational differences are also stark with respect to family relationships and friendships, despite perceptions that seniors are perhaps more prone to loneliness. Younger Canadians are much more likely to say they are worse off than other Canadians when it comes to these connections (18% of those aged 18-29, versus 8% of those 60 plus). Overall, younger Canadians are spending more time thinking about issues that affect others and society as a whole than they are their own employment or long-term savings.

All of this is despite the fact that 58% of seniors describe the pandemic as “a crisis unlike anything we have seen before,” compared with only 36% of Canadians under 30 who said the same. According to the survey, the latter is not unconcerned; rather, the demographic is more likely to describe the COVID crisis as “a serious problem,” rather than something they have not seen before.

Women are more likely to describe the pandemic as an unprecedented crisis overall: 55% versus 41% for men. The divide is most pronounced among seniors, with 67% of female seniors saying the pandemic is crisis unlike anything we have faced before, compared with 48% of male seniors.