Brexit has been a three year headache - for women

01/08/19 . News

The health research is in: Brexit really has been a three year headache - for women, anyway. 

Research has found evidence that Remainers suffered Brexit Blues following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union - comparable to a chronic migraine.

Using the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), which produced more than 38,000 data points before and after the June 2016 referendum, the paper Who Got the Brexit Blues? found that those who voted leave saw their wellbeing improve after the vote, but those who voted to remain in the EU saw their average "mental distress" rise.

The research found that reporting low life satisfaction a year ahead of the vote was a strong predictor for people going on to vote leave in the 2016 referendum. (Well, it’s one way of cheering yourself up, I suppose.)

Lead researcher Dr Nick Powdthavee of Warwick Business School said: ‘There was an immediate worsening (of mental wellbeing) for those who preferred to remain in the EU post-Referendum in terms of mental stress. Plus, the heightening of Remainers’ average mental stress appears to be long-lasting and increases over time. The increase in mental distress associated with Brexit is roughly similar in magnitude as the negative effect of having a chronic migraine.’

Men and over-40s

What about the gender split? Powdthavee said: ‘Men were also more likely than women to prefer leaving the EU. We were able to see that it was mainly men and the over-40s who preferred to leave who derived the most satisfaction from the Brexit vote. While we also found that women and the over-40s who preferred to remain in the EU reported a significant increase in the usual level of mental stress following the EU referendum.’

Women appear to have suffered from the divisions created by Brexit whether they voted for or against it. ‘Women who were anti-Brexit were far more likely to suffer mental distress after the Referendum than men who were anti-Brexit. Men who stated they were anti-Brexit did not report a significant decrease in overall life satisfaction post-referendum, whereas women did.’

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