Society Watch 2022: They Think It’s All Over: The Social Legacy of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Queue of people during pandemic wearing face coverings
  • Author:
    Josefien Breedvelt
  • Publishing date:
    27 July 2022

The annual Society Watch series provides a snapshot of what life is like for people in Britain today, a picture of people’s lives and life opportunities presented from the cradle to the grave.

This year’s report explores the possible legacies of the pandemic for society in Britain, examining policy themes spanning the early years, disruption to education, wellbeing, working life, housing, experiences of marginalised groups, diet and physical health, social attitudes, financial wellbeing, community and ageing and retirement.

It generates an image of how society has been affected as a whole, asking what the evidence tells policy-makers and practitioners about people’s experiences during the pandemic and what the legacy of COVID-19 may be on their lives in the future.

The report highlights that the pandemic impacted all age groups and areas of society, posing significant challenges to both the national recovery and the government’s agenda to ‘level up’ the United Kingdom. New research conducted by NatCen for the report finds that women are now twice as likely as men to be extremely worried about life in the ‘new normal’.

From the cradle to the grave, the Society Watch series provides a snapshot of what life is like for people in Britain today.

The Society Watch 2022 report was compiled and edited by Josefien Breedvelt, Guy Goodwin and Oliver Paynel. The lead editor was Josefien Breedvelt.

Special thanks to all colleagues at NatCen and ScotCen who provided valuable input and support, including Gianfranco Addario, Robert Ashford, Beverley Bates, Kate Belcher, Paul Bradshaw, Jonah Bury, Sarah Butt, Soazig Clifton, Katie Crabb, Sylvie Craig, John Curtice, Rebekka Hammelsbeck, Ella Hudson, Nathan Hudson, Curtis Jessop, Joanne McLean, Sally McManus, Martin Mitchell, Gillian Prior, Lisa Rutherford, Katharine Sadler, Svetlana Speight, Bea Taylor and Isabel Taylor.

The case study analysis was authored by Isabel Taylor, Kate Belcher, Josefien Breedvelt and Bea Taylor using data collected on the NatCen Panel.

Watch the proceedings from our event at the British Academy

Explore last year's Society Watch report on mental health

Download the briefing paper 'Anxious Britain: How Worried Are We in 2022?'