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Young people are as diligent about coronavirus hygiene routines as their older peers but also more stressed out by the pandemic and willing to give up a higher percentage of their income to stop it, according to a global survey that calls into question the stereotype of feckless youth driving up infection rates.
A new survey, which polled the pandemic behaviour of nearly 12,000 respondents from more than 130 countries, found that 18 to 25-year-olds were only marginally less likely to take regular measures to protect themselves than those aged 45 or older.
In fact, young people in some countries, such as the UK, made up the age group that was most compliant with new hygiene rules and restrictions.
Across the globe, politicians and health officials have in recent weeks pointed the finger at young partygoers and rule-breakers as being responsible for a second Covid-19 wave, with the WHO’s regional director for Europe complaining that those in their late teens and early 20s felt “invincible”.
“Contrary to the stereotype of young people ignoring social distancing, we found younger and older people the world over are actually similarly engaged in counter-coronavirus behaviours”, said Tilman Brück of the Berlin-based International Security and Development Center, which initiated the Life with Corona survey. “On average, both older and younger people actually act quite responsibly.”
Across all age groups, people on average said they performed six out of a possible nine hygiene routines given as options, such as wearing face masks, using disinfectant or avoiding large gatherings. British respondents aged 18-25 had on average performed 6.3 counter-Covid behaviours in the past seven days, compared with 6.05 in the 26-45 age bracket, and 6.12 among the over-45s.
While young people tended to be less worried about the health risks of Covid-19 than the over-45s, they were more stressed by the experience of living through a global pandemic: the youngest age group on average rated their stress level at 5.25, compared with 5.09 among the oldest.
Possibly as a result of experiencing the coronavirus pandemic as an intense and life-changing event, young people also said they were willing to give up more of their income than other age groups to bring it to an end: on average, 18-25-year-olds said they would waive 35% of their annual income to completely stop the spread of the virus, compared to only 23% of income among the over 45s.
The survey’s results also puts a question mark over claims that coronavirus has brought out distinctly different behaviours from nations around the globe.
Analysts working their way through the findings of the survey, which started out as a German research project before branching out globally, said they were surprised by how the same age groups displayed similar attitudes.
“Looking at our data, we were quite surprised to find that younger people across the world over are willing to forgo a larger share of their income than older people,” said Brück, a social scientist. “It seems that the pandemic is testing people the world over in similar ways – and they are responding in similar ways.”
Attitudes to vaccines against the virus also showed more similarities than differences: in most countries, including Brazil, India and Germany, a majority of people said they would prefer a vaccine to be made available worldwide equally, even if it was first developed by a company in their country.
Among all countries in which more than 150 people answered the survey, only the US ranked a “worldwide” vaccine as their second-favourite option: 46% of those polled in the US said the vaccine should first be made available in their country, and then elsewhere.
Of those questioned in the UK, 52% said a vaccine should be made available in all countries at the same time, while 36% believed Britain should be given preferential access if a British company developed a vaccine. About 12% of British respondents said a vaccine developed by a British company should be first made available to the country with the highest infection rates.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Young people as diligent about Covid measures as older people, survey finds | World news