Dark clouds, silver linings

While most Americans cited negative effects of the COVID pandemic on their lives and relationships, there were upsides for many.
Percentage of Americans who reported at least one negative change in their lives, jobs, finances, or relationships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 73% also mentioned at least one unexpected benefit. And most people experienced these negative impacts and silver linings at the same time: Two thirds (67%) of Americans mentioned at least one negative and at least one positive change since the pandemic began.

Percentage of Americans who said their relationships improved during the pandemic. While lockdown wasn’t fun for anyone, these respondents said it let them spend more valuable time with spouses, children, or other family members who no longer had to commute to work or school. Others noted that regular video chats brought them closer to distant family members, and some were happy having fewer social obligations.

Percentage of Americans who said the pandemic created positive changes in their daily lives such as helping them slow down, adopt new hobbies, and get more things done around the house thanks to extra time. Meanwhile, 13% overall—and more if they had higher levels of education and income—said their work lives had changed for the better, mainly owing to the pluses of working remotely.

Percentage of Americans who said their health or that of loved ones actually improved as a result of the pandemic. Some said that the pandemic lifestyle led to healthier eating habits and more exercise, while others cited less overall stress and greater appreciation for the things that matter to them. About 13% also mentioned positive financial changes, mainly because the restrictions helped them save more money than usual.

Source: Kessel, P., et al. (2020). In their own words, Americans describe the struggles and silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pew Research Center survey of 9,220 U.S. adults conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, 2020. Available at Pew Research.