With deregulation and reopening of the economy across the UK, this is a good moment to reflect the government’s ambition to rebuild a better society in a more equitable and equitable way after COVID-19 is halted. If one thing is clear over the past 18 months, the pandemic has not affected everyone equally. So, this raises the question of who will we build better buildings for?
We wanted to examine the public perception of this agenda. In particular, we looked at how opinions differ based on geography, gender, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic classification, and other characteristics. We surveyed more than 6,900 people across the UK about their attitudes toward post-pandemic rebuilding, what they think their investment priorities are and their confidence that better rebuilds can be achieved.
All population groups and regions valued better reconstruction, and more than half of respondents said they were personally very important or very important. Only 8% of the respondents said it was not important at all.
But while these headline figures seem to show broad and unified support for eye-catching slogans, examining the views of specific demographic groups tells a different story.
what we found
By analyzing data on different population groups and traits, our approach highlights the fact that everyone always falls into multiple social categories that overlap each other.
We found that attitudes to the importance of reconstruction varied by age and ethnicity. Elderly in the minority group tended to value the emotions of 84% of black, Asian, and minority respondents, and those 65 and older reported that emotions were very important (39%) or quite important (45%). By comparison, 53% of white respondents of the same age group agreed, and the numbers were either very important (19%) or very significant (34%).
However, confidence that a better UK could be delivered after the pandemic was low, with only a quarter (25%) of respondents very or fairly confident that it could be delivered. Surprisingly, the confidence of ethnic groups was significantly higher (31%). This is despite the fact that black and Asian populations are most at risk during the epidemic, the mortality rate for black men is four times higher than for white men and three times higher for Asian men.
Examining responses by gender, age, and ethnicity reveals further differences. For example, 65% of black, Asian and ethnic women aged 65 and older said they were not convinced that their recovery could be better, while 21% said they were 18-24 years old.
The value of government plans for better reconstruction varies by population. UCL gives authors a way to rebuild
Respondents also asked about two areas they think should be prioritized for investing during the post-pandemic recovery period. Naturally, given the role the NHS played during the pandemic, the NHS was the best choice.
Only 14% of respondents cited inequality as one of their top two investment priorities. Much lower than the NHS, job creation, local businesses and downtown areas, climate change and social protection.
For white men aged 18-24 years, climate change (34%) and job creation (34%) were considered top priorities. Addressing inequality was also a higher priority in this group at 21%.
Respondents across all population groups and all regions of the UK felt that national and local governments had an almost equal responsibility for providing recovery (73% and 69% respectively). When asked who should be held accountable, the figures increased slightly (75% and 72%).
The message to this is clear. The majority want national and local governments to work together for sustainable recovery and not hold communities or individuals accountable.
This conflicts with the UK government’s recent message that individuals acting responsibly and making their own judgments are key to fighting the virus. By asking people to take individual responsibility, governments don’t pay attention to how public opinion is patterned by the everyday realities of social status and structural inequality.
As the UK reopens and recovers from the pandemic over time, our work shows that improved cross-analysis of public opinion by socioeconomic classification and social characteristics, including those protected by the 2010 Equality Act, is essential.
To better rebuild, it is necessary to understand the breadth of public perceptions of inequality and reconstruction, the thoughts of different groups about the post-pandemic world, and the aspirations for reconstruction.
Failure to analyze data across different segments of the population obscures significant differences of opinion between groups, especially when some are more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 than others and at risk for recovery plans based on an incomplete understanding of public opinion. .
Any recovery strategy will only be successful if it recognizes and addresses the public opinion data that must be investigated, interrogated and reported for all its diversity.
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