Understanding Society: The UK Household Longitudinal Study

Understanding Society survey enables research into the effects of COVID-19 on UK households

Understanding Society (UKHLS) is the largest household panel study of its kind, interviewing individuals of all ages, in households representative of the UK population. 

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UKHLS works to better understand how different generations experience life in the UK.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UKHLS launched a special survey in April to assess the impact of COVID-19 on areas such as mental and physical health, educational inequalities, family income, and poverty. This information is being used extensively by researchers and is informing media and policy discussions about the pandemic.

The survey data has been used by researchers at the University of Essex to examine the economic effects of COVID-19 on different groups of people. For instance, individuals from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have been disproportionately affected – these individuals are 14% less likely to be furloughed and 13% more likely to be unemployed. Single parent families have also been badly affected - the loss of household earnings has been severe, with almost a third facing a decline of over 20%.

In addition, the survey has been used to investigate carers’ use of foodbanks and experience of hunger during the pandemic. Researchers from the universities of Birmingham and Sheffield, in partnership with Carers UK, have shown that more than 100,000 unpaid carers have been using foodbanks to get by, with almost 229,000 having had someone in their household go hungry during lockdown.

These findings have provided essential information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected different groups in society. As a result, researchers have been able to engage with government and third sector policymakers to help shape the national COVID-19 response.

For more information, please visit https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/topic/covid-19

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