Coronavirus and its Impact on Different Ethnic Groups

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According to a report published by the Office of National Statistics, most ethnic groups in the UK experienced a worsening of their self-reported mental health between 2019 and April 2020.

This was based on their GHQ-12 score, after adjusting for age, sex, socio-economic classification (NS-SEC), change in help and support received since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and whether they have a health condition.

Prior to the pandemic, households headed by someone of Black African or other Black ethnicity were significantly less likely to have enough formal financial assets to cover a drop in employment income, than those from most other ethnic groups.

After adjusting for age, around half of working-age adults of White British (46%) and Other White (51%) ethnicities in paid work, both immediately before and during the first period of lockdown, in the UK, reported a decrease in their weekly hours worked in April 2020, compared with one-third of their counterparts of Indian (33%) and Black, African, Caribbean or Black British (33%) ethnicities.

In April 2020 in the UK, over a quarter (27%) of those from Black, African, Caribbean or Black British ethnic groups reported finding it very or quite difficult to get by financially, significantly more than those from White Irish (6%), Other White (7%), Indian (8%) and Pakistani or Bangladeshi (13%) ethnic groups.
Statistician’s comment

Glenn Everett, Deputy Director, Sustainability & Inequalities Division said, “What this research shows us is how the impact on different ethnic groups varies and how people’s circumstances before the pandemic could affect their experience during the first national lockdown.

Financial resilience was lower among Black African or Other Black households before the pandemic, for example, which would explain why these groups found it harder to manage financially during lockdown. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mental health deteriorated across most ethnic groups during lockdown but was most marked in the Indian group”, said Everett.

This is the first stage in a programme of work by the office of National Statistics in which they intend to follow individuals within the UK Household Longitudinal Study to explore the impacts of the pandemic on their lives over the longer term, particularly focusing on experiences across ethnic groups.

Throughout this analysis, data have been disaggregated to provide the most granular breakdown possible, while producing robust estimates based on sample sizes. Throughout, broader ethnic groups have been referred to in line with the Ethnicity Harmonised standard.

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