HSE Survey: Russians Expect to Return to Normal Life after the Pandemic
During the pandemic, most Russians have been concerned with the health of their families, parents, and friends, as well as their own financial well-being. These are the findings of a survey conducted by the HSE Institute for Public Administration and Governance. At the same time, Russian citizens are least worried about potential food shortages. This is what makes them fundamentally different from Americans, British, German, and Chinese people, who are more worried about food supplies.
According to the survey conducted on April 18-20, only 7% of Russian respondents are concerned about food shortages. Conversely, statista.com shows that food supply is a concern of 42% of people in the USA, 31% in the UK, 27% in China, and 18% in Germany. Russians are most worried about the health of their families (69%), and parents and older friends (39%). 44% of Russians surveyed are worried about their financial situation. This number is not as big as that observed in the USA and China (49%), but it is higher than the numbers in Germany and the UK (38% and 37%, respectively). Russians reported much less anxiety about their country’s economic stability than Americans and the Chinese—only 32% of Russian respondents mentioned this, while in the other countries this value varies from 53% to 69%.
The sociological opinion survey, ‘Changes Caused by the Coronavirus Epidemic and the Self-Isolation Policy’ was conducted online. On April 18-20, a third stage of the opinion survey was conducted, surveying 11,139 people across the Russian Federation. The first two stages were conducted on March 18-19 and April 4-5, respectively.
The third stage showed an increase in the percentage of Russians who believe that more preventative measures should be enforced due to the coronavirus epidemic. Today, 31% of respondents appear to support this idea, compared to 22% of respondents who reported the same on April 4-5. The percentage of the respondents backing the self-isolation regime but advocating a decrease in the number of preventative measures reduced from 23% to 18%. The survey also shows that 22% of Russians support all the current preventative measures, while 18% of respondents believe that the self-isolation policy shouldn’t have been imposed at all.
The results demonstrate that the majority of Russians believe the country has yet to reach the peak of the pandemic. This opinion is shared by 50.1% of the respondents, with 16.1% thinking that we are only at the beginning of the epidemic. Meanwhile, 6.3% of the respondents tend to be of the opinion that the threat has been overestimated, and 14.6% of those surveyed believe it is a conspiracy—the latter group appears to deny the very existence of the epidemic, saying that this is just an elaborate hoax to serve the interests of unnamed individuals.
On the whole, the two weeks between the second and the third stages of the survey showed a decrease in the estimation of the coronavirus spread risk from 5.94 to 5.69 points.
OF RESPONDENTS NOW WASH THEIR HANDS MORE OFTEN
According to the third stage of the survey, 67% of Russians tend to spend more time at home, but take fewer other coronavirus precautions. Only 36% of respondents observe social distancing practices, while this percentage reaches 56% in China, and 80% in the USA and the UK. The same 36% of Russians reported avoiding public transport. Currently, 45% of respondents reported going shopping less frequently, with online shopping having increased by only 8% (compared to European countries, where the share of online shopping exceeds 30%, to the USA, where it amounts to 48%, and to China, where it reaches a dramatic 63%).
As far as working is concerned, 36.6% of Russians continue to go to work, 18.8% reported they are now working remotely with full or partial pay, and 8.6% reported that they have lost their jobs. Among the industries with the most massive layoffs and unpaid leaves are food and beverage, real estate, the service sector, and travel. Other affected economic sectors are construction, retail, and the hotel industry. The housing and public utility sector, medicine, government and administration, and security services have demonstrated the most stability. The education and science sectors have been able to shift most of their employees to remote working with full pay.
The current demand for preventive products (such as masks and antiseptics) has gone down substantially—63% of respondents mentioned them, compared to the survey’s second stage at the beginning of April, when 71.1% of the respondents said they needed those things. Russians also think that they have had enough information about the coronavirus and the preventative measures required to curb its spread. Only 25.8% believe they need to know more (in contrast to 31.9% of the respondents two weeks ago).
OF THE RESPONDENTS BELIEVE THE GOVERNMENT MUST PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST THEIR SOURCE OF INCOME
(TWO WEEKS AGO THIS PERCENTAGE WAS 81.7)
The majority of Russian respondents are planning to return to normal life once the preventative measures have been lifted. 38.2% of the people living in Russia dream of going outdoors for a walk, 32% cannot wait to see their relatives and friends, and 26.4% expect to return to the office. A divorce is being planned by 1.2% of the respondents. And only 1.1% would like to continue working remotely from home.
Andrey Zhulin, Director of the Institute for Public Administration and Governance and HSE Deputy Rector
‘The survey results show that Russians have become fatigued from the preventative measures. This is shown in Russian’s gradual loosening of their self-isolation practices—particularly in the Russian provinces, where people are more often going to work and seeing their relatives. Russians are looking forward to returning to normal life after the COVID-19 pandemic is over—most of the respondents expect to get back to work and resume their usual lifestyles by going out for walks, visiting friends, playing sports, going to school, going to theatres, and travelling. This attitude is a mark of positive expectations which rely on the understanding that the current restrictions are mandatory but temporary.’