The pandemic has added a dark new element to the list of grief, crisis and inequality around the world. An investigation by the Pew Research Center, published this Wednesday (23), shows that most inhabitants of countries with advanced economies believe that the social divide has widened since the discovery of the coronavirus.
One of the main sources of divergence, the numbers show, is how the population assesses measures such as the use of masks and social distancing to curb the virus.
The survey was conducted in 17 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania and found that on average 61% of people say their societies are more divided today than before the pandemic, while 34% feel more united.
The institute compared the scenario between this year and last year and the perception of divisions has increased by more than 30 percentage points in some of them, such as Canada and Japan.
Leading the number of deaths from Covid-19, with more than 600,000 victims, the United States also tops the list on splits: 88% of Americans say they are more divided today, while 77% felt so in the past year. Those who see more union were 18% and now they total only 10%.
Among the Japanese, those who see the country’s most divided society jumped from 27% to 59%, while in Canada the index rose from 29% to 61%.
The survey interviewed 18,850 adults by telephone – 2,596 Americans, February 1-7, and the rest, March 12-May 26, in countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
In Europe, the most pessimistic views are found in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, where nearly eight in ten people see more divisions in their country’s societies. Optimism, meanwhile, is halfway around the world, in countries like New Zealand and Singapore, where a sense of unity prevails among 75% and 86% of respondents, respectively.
Mood, in most cases, is directly related to how each country has performed in the fight against the pandemic. In New Zealand and Singapore, for example, deaths from Covid-19 do not exceed 40.
The main reasons for social divisions are precisely the authorities’ responses to the pandemic, in economic terms and restrictive measures, the survey said.
According to the survey, 41% of those polled, on average, say that wearing a mask, stay-at-home orders and social distancing have been implemented to the right extent in their country, while 37% said that there should have been more restrictions. % say they want fewer limitations.
In this regard, New Zealand once again draws attention. After strict containment, which controlled the transmission of the virus and left the death toll in the tens, 80% say the government measures were appropriate, while 10% wanted fewer restrictions and 11% more.
The United States, Canada and Japan emerge as the places where most locals say they should have enacted more restrictions, while Greece was the only country surveyed where most of the population preferred to have suffered fewer restrictions in the past year and a half. .
Among Americans, for example, 56% say more restrictions are needed, 17% believe the measures are fair, and 26% call for fewer restrictions.
In the richest country in the world, despite the federal government’s recommendations regarding the wearing of masks and respect for social distancing – provided with sobs by Donald Trump in 2020 and carried out more rigorously by Joe Biden since January – these are governors who have the authority to implement local restrictions.
Republican states eased restrictions more quickly and resumed operations ahead of Democratic-controlled regions. In many cases, the early return has led to new epidemics, now controlled by the mass vaccination campaign that has already immunized with at least one dose about 65% of Americans.
Research from the Pew Research Center crystallizes the assessment that ideology largely determines how people expect government to handle the pandemic. Those who identify with the right of the political spectrum, for example, are less in favor of restrictive measures to contain the virus than those who identify with the left.
Likewise, there is also strong disagreement around the world over how each country has responded to the pandemic in economic terms: on average, 46% of those polled say the country they live in is recovering economically, while 47 % say the opposite.
Overall, the assessment of how countries are responding to the crisis has fallen from the middle of last year to today, especially in regions that have faced new outbreaks.
One of the most impressive figures comes from Germany, where the share of people who think the country is fighting the crisis well has fallen by 37 percentage points: it was 88% in the middle of last year and 51% this year.
Positive valuation has also fallen to double digits in countries like Japan, South Korea, France and Italy. The UK, however, appears to be the only place where scores have improved: last year 46% of Britons rated the national response to the crisis positively; today it is 64%.
A little over a year after the WHO (World Health Organization) said the world is experiencing a pandemic, on average 65% of people say their lives have been impacted in one way or another, while 34% say they have been little or not affected by the crisis. Despite all the difficulties, the vast majority still believe that their country’s health system is ready to face future global emergencies: 75% see this capacity in the event of a new pandemic.