It’s brought misery to millions and devastated the global economy, but are there any upsides to COVID-19? People in Britain and the US are optimistic that some good could come from the pandemic.
We asked 1,000 Brits and 2,000 Americans a range of coronavirus-related questions in two nationally representative surveys (watch our webinar for the full findings). One thing we wanted to know was if they thought there would be any positive outcomes for society and the environment.
Overwhelmingly people think there will be silver linings. Only 4.3% of people in the UK and 3.1% in the US say nothing good will come from the current situation. But, while people in both nations believe there will be benefits, they don’t agree on what they’ll be.
Health and family are the top positive outcomes from COVID-19
Coronavirus has given Brits a new appreciation of the NHS and 55.3% of people are now hopeful there will be more funding for healthcare in the future. People aged 41-65, especially, believe there will be more money for healthcare (60.1% versus 50.5% of younger people).
But Americans don’t share Brits’ optimism about increased funding for health – they’re 31% less likely than their British counterparts to agree this will happen (37.9%), with both younger and older people feeling similarly.
What they do think will improve after coronavirus is their appreciation of family. Just over 62% of Americans think they’ll value their family more, which is in comparison to 52.5% of Brits.
However, British people are 17% more likely to think community spirit will increase as a result of coronavirus (45% versus 38.4% of Americans).
More flexible working is another benefit that Americans are anticipating; nearly 39% think employees will have greater freedom to work from home in the future. That’s 19% higher than the 32.6% of Brits who believe they’ll enjoy greater flexibility.
UK results: Do you feel anything good will come from the Coronavirus pandemic?
Less optimism for the environment
Sadly though, people are not convinced that these changes will remain once life goes back to normal. Only 24% of Brits believe there will be more action on climate change post-COVID-19 and even fewer Americans think this will be the case (21.9%).
Older Americans (aged 41-65) are the most pessimistic; only 18.4% think there will be more action on climate change post-coronavirus. But Americans in the younger age group (aged 18-40) are nearly 40% more likely to believe there will be increased action on climate change (25.7%).
Likewise, younger British people are 32% more likely to think the pandemic will trigger climate action than their older counterparts (27.2% versus 20.6%). Interestingly, we also see that women in the UK are 27% more likely to feel optimistic about this topic than men (26.8% versus 21.1%).
US results: Do you feel anything good will come from the Coronavirus pandemic?
Men are the biggest pessimists
UK men not only demonstrate more pessimism about action on climate change; they’re more pessimistic about any positive outcomes. More than 6% think there won’t be any benefits arising from coronavirus compared with 2.6% of women.
They’re especially less likely to believe they’ll be a greater appreciation of family after the pandemic. While 62.2% of women think this will be an upshot of the virus, only 41.9% of men agree.
American men are also 27% less likely to think coronavirus will make us more grateful for our families (52.1% versus 71.6% of women). But they do show more optimism that it will lead to increased healthcare funding than their female counterparts (41.1% versus 34.9%).
Older people are more optimistic about the positive impact of coronavirus on family and community
The older demographic in both nations show a lot of positivity that COVID-19 will improve familial and community relations. Brits aged 41-65 are 10% more likely to believe there will be increased appreciation of family post-coronavirus (55.1% versus 49.9% of younger people) and 11% more likely to think community spirit will be boosted (47.4% versus 42.7% of younger people).
Older Americans, meanwhile, are 11% more likely to think there will be more appreciation of family (65.3% versus 58.7% of younger people) and 20% more likely to believe there will be an increase in community spirit (41.9% versus 34.8% of younger people).