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Pandemic’s impact on women across social classes

Pandemic’s impact on women across social classes

Woman Hand Holding Glasses With Drink Party Club Night

Full article issued by Flinders University.

As lockdowns continue around Australia in the wake of the highly infectious Delta strain, new ARC-supported research from Flinders University has revealed that during the pandemic in 2020, the most affluent women suffered increased feelings of depression when compared to other social classes. The research also found that middle-class women reported feeling fear and anxiety, and drank more alcohol.

The researchers surveyed 799 Australian women aged 45-64 years at two points during the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020 – asking them about their emotions, as well as their drinking patterns.

To compare the impacts of the pandemic across different groups of women, the researchers defined social classes based on the individuals’ access to cash, property and assets, their social contacts and employment prestige, as well as their participation in cultural activities. 

Led by Dr Belinda Lunnay at Flinders University, the team looked for changes in women’s feelings during COVID-19 and found increased feelings of fear or anxiety and depression was higher in those from more affluent social classes. Whereas women in the most disadvantaged social class reported increased feelings of uncertainty.

The survey also investigated women’s alcohol consumption patterns to determine how their emotional responses to the pandemic had impacted their levels of drinking.

Of all the social groups, middle-class women – who have a lot of social contacts, but moderate access to cash and assets – reported increasing their drinking the most.

Dr Lunnay highlighted that how women react to the pandemic provides an important context to their sense of risk during the pandemic, and specifically to the negative emotions stemming from the impact of lockdowns and restrictions.


Image Credit: (Public Domain)

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