The Emotional Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Population
The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped through almost every country on the planet, causing devastating decay to the mental health of millions of people.
While most of us are experiencing higher levels of emotional distress than normal, the severity of stress may change based on factors such as age, race, education level, or even where you live.
This graphic uses data from the National Pandemic Emotional Impact Report to illustrate how each demographic subgroup in the U.S. is feeling.
The emotional upheaval of such a unique event impacts people in different ways, and is difficult to measure given the many direct and indirect factors associated with it.
For the report referenced in the graphic, researchers created a detailed methodology to measure the impact of COVID-19 across a sample of 1,500 adults. Surveys were conducted in May 2020, when the majority of people were under strict lockdown orders. Unemployment levels mirrored those seen only during the Great Depression, and of course, the death rate was rising quicker than anyone could have anticipated.
A Pandemic Distress Index Score (PDIS) was calculated based on participant’s responses, which were then divided into low (bottom 25%), moderate, and high (top 25%) quartiles of pandemic distress.
Emotional Distress Levels, by Demographic Group
Findings uncovered that almost 40% of participants have lost their jobs, or experienced a reduction in income due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the reverberations of such stressors vary by demographic subgroup.
According to the report, pandemic-related emotional distress decreases by age group. People in the 18-34 year bracket reported the most pandemic-related distress overall—with respondents citing high stress at nearly double the rate of people over 50 years old. Meanwhile, respondents in the 65+ age group had reported the lowest distress scores of all.
Of all ethnicities in the survey, Hispanics/Latinos and Blacks had the highest average Pandemic Distress Index Scores, and Whites had the lowest average scores.
It is also worth noting that the research concluded five days after the death of George Floyd, so the majority of responses may not include the influence of this event, and the subsequent movement against systematic racism.
In other subgroups, there were slight differences worth mentioning. For example, from a communities perspective, people who live in rural areas were less likely to experience high pandemic distress compared to people living in towns or cities.
When it comes to the battle of the sexes, men and women experience similar levels of distress. Moreover, the level of emotional distress related to COVID-19 did not differ much between people with children under 18 and those with older children. However, women with children under 18 reported more symptoms of anxiety compared to women with no minor children.
What Does the Data Mean?
While the research presents several important insights, understanding what it means is crucial in providing people with the support they need.
For example, participants with high pandemic-related distress are 40 times more likely to have clinically significant levels of anxiety and 20 times more likely to have clinically significant symptoms of depression, compared to those on the lower end of the spectrum.
In fact, a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 1 in 4 people in the 18-24 age bracket have seriously considered committing suicide at some point during the month of June 2020, which is in line with the emotional distress scores for this age group.
While nobody can escape the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on mental health, it is clear that some people are more at risk than others.
Unfortunately, younger adults and people of racial and ethnic minorities have carried higher psychological burdens from the pandemic so far, and we have yet to see the long-term effects that could transpire as a result.
“Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities.”
—António Guterres, United Nations
Although at times the pandemic may feel inescapable, we must continue to prioritize both our physical and mental health—so we can build immunity for what’s to come.
Charted: Average Years Left to Live by Age
Visualizing the number of years left to live for Americans at every age, reveals the broader trends in American life expectancy.
How Many Years Do You Have Left to Live?
At the start of the 19th century, when there fewer than 1 billion humans on the earth, global life expectancy at birth stood at roughly 29 years.
This is a startlingly low figure—because life expectancy is a statistical projection of how many more years a person can expect to live, based on the mortality rates at the time. And since the infant mortality rate in particular was so high, life expectancies accurately summarized the low likelihood of many babies living to adulthood.
However, since the 1920s, life expectancy across all ages has improved leaps and bounds, thanks to rapid advancements in nutrition, healthcare, and sanitation.
We visualized the current American life expectancy by age and gender, using data from the Office of Social Security, which bases their current projections on 2020 mortality rates.
American Life Expectancy at Every Age
A key takeaway with life expectancy is that it increases as one gets older. This is easily seen in the table below, which lists the remaining years left to live at a given age for an American male and the projected life expectancy.
|Age||Years Remaining (Men)||Life Expectancy (Men)|
At birth, an average American baby boy can expect to live till just past 74. But if the boy reaches adulthood, then at 21 he might live to a full year more, past 75. This trend persists even towards the end of life when the years we have left drop rapidly, influenced by the higher likelihood of death.
American women, on the other hand, have a higher life expectancy than men. At birth the gap is close to six years, narrowing steadily to around one year by 85.
Interestingly, women outlive men in nearly every country in the world, due to a mix of sociological, behavioral, and biological reasons.
COVID-19: Reversing A Decade of Increasing American Life Expectancy
While the current American life expectancy at birth seems reasonably high, it is nearly two years lower than the 2022 figure which used the 2019 mortality rate. It is also lower than the life expectancy at birth in 2009, which used 2005 mortality rate.
at Birth (Men)
at Birth (Women)
American mortality rates went up 17% between 2019–2020, in part because of COVID-19, in turn affecting life expectancy. The U.S. also had a higher COVID-19 mortality rate compared to its peers two years after the pandemic first struck.
Thus, American life expectancy may not improve immediately to 2019 levels, which can affect insurance premiums, pension benefits, and plans.
Misc6 days ago
Ranked: America’s Best Universities
Technology1 week ago
Ranked: Largest Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue
Misc1 week ago
Visualized: EV Market Share in the U.S.
Maps1 week ago
Interactive Map: The World as 1,000 People
Retail1 week ago
Ranked: Average Black Friday Discounts for Major Retailers
Brands1 week ago
Ranked: Fast Food Brands with the Most U.S. Locations
Economy1 week ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Imports from U.S. Trading Partners
Markets1 week ago
Ranked: The Biggest Retailers in the U.S. by Revenue