A third of British people have enjoyed coronavirus lockdown, according to a massive study that tracked the emotions of more than 70,000 people in the last 14 weeks.
One in three respondents told researchers at University College London (UCL) that, on balance, they had enjoyed the period of restrictions.
But the survey highlighted the social inequalities that impacted people’s experience during the lockdown, with those who earned more and those who did not have underlying mental health conditions more likely to enjoy it.
Adults aged between 30 and 59, those who lived with others and those who have children in their household were also among the groups most likely to have a more positive experience.
People in Scotland and Wales enjoyed the period less than those in England, and there were no notable differences across ethnic groups.
The British government imposed an unprecedented lockdown on March 23, shutting businesses and telling people they could only leave home for a small number of essential purposes.
The restrictions have since been eased in parts of the country and small outdoor group gatherings are now allowed, while further rules will be eased from July 4 in England.
Respondents were also asked how much they thought they would miss lockdown. Results showed that 26% felt they would miss lockdown more than not miss it, while 61% felt they would not miss it overall, and 13% were mixed in their feelings.
Meanwhile, 40% of adults reported gaining weight across lockdown, 17% reported drinking more than normal and a third said they had smoked more than usual.
The findings suggest that a large number of those who do enjoy lockdown have higher household incomes and live with others.
This means they may have been “less affected by the economic and social restrictions,” lead author Daisy Fancourt said in a statement.
Meanwhile, those who have a lower income, live in overcrowded accommodation or feel more isolated by living alone may not be enjoying lockdown or have mixed feelings about it.
Public support for the lockdown was high initially, but a number of political controversies have dented approval in the government’s moves. Most notably, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to sack a chief aide who breached self-isolation protocol led to anger from the British public.
The UCL study has found declining rates of people saying they were complying with the lockdown, though that slump has stabilized in the past week.
“Given that low earners have been most at risk of the negative social and economic consequences of the pandemic it is unsurprising that they have been less likely to enjoy lockdown than those on higher incomes,” said Cheryl Lloyd, education program head at the Nuffield Foundation, which was involved in the research.
“It is essential the policy response takes steps to reduce inequalities and minimise the longer-term scarring effects of the pandemic on low earners,” she added in a statement.