Coronavirus no longer main concern in Belgium, but older people remain worried

Coronavirus no longer main concern in Belgium, but older people remain worried
Two men wearing masks in Brussels. Credit: Belga

The Ukrainian conflict, rising energy and food prices and climate change have replaced the coronavirus crisis as the main concerns of people living in Belgium, according to the last Great Corona Study.

After two years, the pandemic is no longer dominating headlines nor driving sleepless nights among people in Belgium. Just one in seven participants of the 46th and final survey mentions the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a concern, with elderly people being most worried about the health crisis.

This time, respondents could also indicate which social evolutions they were excited or concerned about.

Two-thirds of people who took part in the study by UAntwerpen, UHasselt, KU Leuven and the ULB indicated feeling concerned about the war in Ukraine, while rising energy prices, climate change and the increasing inequality between rich and poor are also listed as unsettling.

"Strikingly, respondents who are financially strong are more concerned about climate change and the war in Ukraine. Those who are financially struggling are more likely to be concerned about rising energy prices and inequality between rich and poor," a statement read.

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Researchers also noted a difference in age, with older people being more concerned about the conflict in Ukraine, and younger people being more worried about climate change.

Respondents felt that New Zealand handled the crisis better than Belgium, and that Belgium did about as well as Singapore, South Korea and China, but that it did a better job than the governments in the US, India, Russia and Brazil.

Evolutions that gave people a good feeling are the increase in alternative and more sustainable energy use, the increase in healthy life expectancy and more cooperation in Europe.

Final survey

Some 12,700 people living in Belgium participated in the last survey of the study, which has been running since the coronavirus crisis started.

"After two years, this is a good moment to conclude," social scientist Koen Pepermans (UAntwerpen) said in a statement. He added that researchers will now focus on the further analysis of the data gathered since March 2020.

In total, more than three million responses were collected from all surveys in the past two years.

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