International study: how has coronavirus affected people’s personal lives?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
December 14, 2020, 4:50 PM GMT+0

A new survey in 14 countries and regions looks at the impact of COVID-19 on people’s relationships, faith and mental health

With COVID-19 having ravaged the planet for the past nine months or so, the toll the disease has taken in terms of lives and money is well-reported. But what is less well known is how the pandemic has affected people’s personal lives.

A new YouGov survey, conducted in 14 countries and regions, reveals the damage done to people’s personal lives across the world.

Romantic relationships

People in the UAE report the most negative impact on their romantic lives, with 24% saying that their relationship has become strained or even ended as a result of the virus. One in five Indonesians (21%) likewise say that the virus has taken a toll on their love life, as do 15% of Americans, Britons and Hong Kongers.

Danes are least likely to have been adversely affected, at 7%.

Family relationships

While Danes’ love lives may have been least affected, their family relationships are another matter. Almost half (48%) of Danes say that their family relationships have become strained, or that they have even stopped talking to someone entirely, as a result of the disease.

This figure is far higher than in any other country, with Italy in second place at 29%. In the United States, about one in five (22%) say their family relationships have ended or become strained as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chinese are least likely to have experienced disharmony in the family since the pandemic began, at just 9%.


Danes are also the most likely to say their friendships have taken a hit because of coronavirus, at 35% (joint with Indonesians).

Again, it is the Chinese who are least likely to have fallen out with their friends, at 9%.


The global pandemic has been a trying time for us all, and for many religious people has proven a test of their faith. In the UAE, some 16% of people say their faith has become more strained, or been lost entirely, as a result of the disease. One in eight (12%) say the same in Singapore, as do 11% in Indonesia.

Mental health

Britons are the most likely to say that the virus has negatively affected their mental health. Almost two thirds (65%) say they’ve found themselves more troubled over the course of the outbreak, slightly ahead of Hong Kongers (63%) and Italians (62%).

Germans are the least likely to say the crisis has had a negative impact on their mental health, at 44% - the only country where this figure was lower than half.

A more detailed examination of the mental health figures can be found here.

See full results here.

Methodology: 19,189 adults, including 2,014 US adults, were surveyed. Interviews were conducted online between November 2 – 11, 2020.