Call for fuller picture of pandemic inequalities

10/03/21 . News

The Forum is calling on the ONS to paint a fuller picture of how the pandemic has affected men and women.

Clearly, Covid-19 affects men and women differently. Now new data from the ONS show how but only in a limited way.

The publication, bringing together previously published data, is the first of a series of official publications that will look at the impacts on people of the coronavirus pandemic.

The key findings, which appear below, gloss over differential death rates to focus on furloughing, home schooling and reported levels of anxiety. These are important areas and the inequalities here need to be tackled but the Forum would like to see the data from areas the report neglects: alcohol and alcohol abuse; drugs, gambling and other addictive and dangerous behaviours; the wider indicators of poor mental health including self-harm and suicide; crime and violence, to name just half-a-dozen.

The Forum has called for more data to get a fuller and accurate picture of how the pandemic has impacted differently on men and women. Forum CEO Martin Tod said:

Since when has premature death not been a health inequality? When did dying stop being bad for your well-being?  How can we talk about furloughing but not unemployment? How can we talk about anxiety but not alcohol?

To truly understand the impact of the pandemic on our lives ONS need to look at the fuller picture. In its current form, this report is incomplete and risks poor policy decisions being made. ONS need to raise their game: future reports have to take a more thorough view.

As an example, the latest unemployment figures for October-December 2020 show that 959,000 men were unemployed compared to 785,000 women (rates of 5.4% and 4.8% respectively). The rise in male unemployment was also greater with a 252,000 increase in unemployed men in this period for 2020 compared to 2019. The increase among women was 203,000.

Similarly, we have seen record numbers of alcohol-related deaths during the pandemic with men dying at twice the rate of women.

The key findings in the ONS report include:

  • More men have died than women, with the difference greatest in the early days of the pandemic (March and April 2020).
  • Women were more likely than men to be furloughed (2.91m women; 2.72m for men on the1st July 2020) although this gap decreased over time (on the 31st December 2020, 1.88m women and 1.85m men were furloughed).
  • Women did more unpaid childcare and unpaid household work throughout the pandemic than men. In fact, the amount of work of this type done by men fell from 2 hours 25 minutes a day in March and April 2020 to 1 hour 57 mins in September and early October 2020. Women consistently did over three hours.
  • Two-thirds of women (67%) compared to just half of men (52%) homeschooled a school-age child in their home in late January and early February 2021. Both men and women said home-schooling was affecting their mental wellbeing. This rose from 20% of men and 34% of women in the first ‘lockdown’ to 45% of men and 53% of women by early 2021.
  • Women reported higher levels of anxiety and loneliness while men were more likely to say they were not worried about the pandemic.

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The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

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