With some 4 million confirmed cases and 150,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, is the U.S. facing worse economic and mental health consequences from the pandemic than other wealthy nations?
That’s a question the Commonwealth Fund asked this week in a report.
The survey finds that 31% of American adults have faced negative economic effects from the pandemic, including being unable to pay for basic necessities, using up most personal savings, or borrowing money or taking out a loan.
This compared with 24% in Canada and 21% in Australia. In contrast, only 6% of German and 7% of Dutch adults report having negative effects.
In addition, 27% of Americans and 26% of Australians have lost a job or a source of income when businesses closed to limit the virus’s spread, while just 7% of French and German respondents report the same.
The study also finds that economic woes caused adults in several wealthy countries to experience stress, anxiety, and/or great sadness that was difficult to cope with alone. The U.S. leads with 56% of adults, followed by the U.K. at 53%, and Australia and Canada at 50% each.
Overall, 33% of American adults report mental health problems since the pandemic’s outbreak, compared with about a quarter of adults in Australia, Canada, France and New Zealand. In Norway, one in 10 respondents report having such problems.
In contrast, Germans, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and New Zealanders, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, gave their national governments approval ratings of 95% and 89% respectively.
“What we learn from this study is that in the U.S., the pandemic has taken a greater toll on people’s well-being when compared to other high-income countries,” according to Reginald Williams, the study’s lead author and Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for international health policy and practice innovations.
“As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. continues to increase, policymakers — at all levels of government — should look abroad for innovative solutions,” Williams explained.
He added: “There are valuable lessons we can learn, particularly around improving access to mental health services, and addressing socioeconomic needs exacerbated by the pandemic.”
To examine the pandemic’s early effects on the well-being of adults in the U.S. and abroad, the Commonwealth Fund joined SSRS, a survey research firm, to interview some 8,260 adults in 10 countries between March and May.