Wide Variations in Post-COVID ‘Return to Normal’ Expectations, Survey Finds

Published
12 Apr 2021
2021
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Amanda Russo, +41 79 392 6898, arus@weforum.org

  • Majority hopeful that the pandemic will be contained within the next year, but expectations vary widely by country
  • China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia believe it will take a year to return to normal, while Japan, France, Italy and South Korea believe it will take longer
  • 1 out of 2 adults say their emotional and mental health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic, but nearly 1 in 4 said it improved since the start of 2021
  • Read more and view the report

Geneva, Switzerland, 12 April 2021 - A new IPSOS/World Economic Forum survey found that almost 60% expect a return to pre-COVID normal within the next 12 months. including 6% who think this is already the case, 9% who think it will take no more than three months, 13% four to six months, and 32% seven to 12 months (the median time). About one in five think it will take more than three years (10%) or that it will never happen (8%).

Views on when to expect a return to normal vary widely across countries: Over 70% of adults in Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, and mainland China are confident their life will return to pre-COVID normal within a year. In contrast, 80% in Japan and more than half in France, Italy, South Korea, and Spain expect it will take longer.

How long before return to normal
How long before return to normal
Image: IPSOS/World Economic Forum

At a global level, expectations about how long it will take before one’s life can return to its pre-COVID normal and how long it will take for the pandemic to be contained are nearly identical. These findings suggest that people across the world consider that being able to return to “normal” life is entirely dependent on containing the pandemic.

An average of 45% of adults globally say their mental and emotional health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago. However, one in four say their mental health has improved since the beginning of the year (23%), about as many that say it has worsened (27%).

Read the World Economic Forum article.

How long before coronavirus pandemic is contained?

Similar to life returning to pre-COVID normal, 58% on average across all countries and markets surveyed expect the pandemic to be contained within the next year, including 13% who think this is already the case or will happen within 3 months, 13% between four and six months and 32% between seven and 12 months (the median time in most markets).

Majorities in India, China, and Saudi Arabia think the pandemic is already contained or will be within the next 6 months. In contrast, four in five in Japan and more than half in Australia, France, Poland, Spain, and Sweden expect it will take more than a year.

Change in emotional and mental health since beginning of the pandemic about a year ago

On average across the 30 countries and markets surveyed, 45% of adults say their emotional and mental health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago, three times the proportion of adults who say it has improved (16%)

In 11 countries, at least half report a decline in their emotional and mental health with Turkey (61%), Chile (56%), and Hungary (56%) showing the largest proportions.

About the study

The survey was conducted among more than 21,000 adults under the age of 75 between February 19, 2021 and March 5, 2021 on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online platform. Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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