Covid-19 has had a profound effect on many core aspects of our wellbeing. The associated social and economic impacts have had a disproportionate impact on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
We have been looking through studies and surveys that have been conducted in recent months to show where wellbeing impacts have been evident. This includes how our health, income, jobs, where we live, education and relationships have been affected, all important factors for our wellbeing. We have focussed on evidence that identifies the groups and personal characteristics that mean people are more likely to have been affected than others.
The evidence finds that the wellbeing of people from ethnic minorities has been particularly affected in a number of ways.
Associated with the increased risk from the virus itself, people from ethnic minority groups also experienced a higher risk of worsening mental healthover this period, and increased difficulty sleeping.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic migrants in the UK are more likely to lose their jobs during the Covid-19 lockdown than white British people. Some people are particularly exposed to sectors that were shutdown. For example, 24% of Bangladeshi men work in the restaurants and food services sector and 16% of Pakistani men work in taxi or cab driving.
This compounds an unemployment rate that was already markedly higher for people from BAME backgrounds than it was for white people before Covid-19 hit.
Economic insecurity is more prevalent, with 18% of BAME workers in low-paid insecure roles compared to 15% of white workers.
In addition to the financial impact from job losses, Black and minority ethnicity groups have also been less likely to receive any form of sick payif ill with the coronavirus, even though they have had to self-isolate.
These groups have also been much more likely than their white counterparts to turn to their savingsfor day-to-day spending during Covid-19. This is likely to have a knock on effect on poverty, which is already higher for people from ethnic minorities.
People in Black and minority ethnicity families are between two and three times as likely to be in persistent povertythan people in white families. This in turn is likely to have an impact on child poverty, particularly in Bangladeshi and Pakistani families where there are higher proportions of children under 16.
Homes and housing
Black people in England are nearly four times as likely as white people to have no outdoor space at home. Two out of every five children in ethnic minority households have no garden access, and one in four live in overcrowded homes.
19% of BME groups said that social isolation was making ‘relationships at home more difficult than usual’, compared with 14% adults in Britain.
"Runnymede's recent survey into the impact of Covid-19 on Black and ethnic minority (BME) communities highlights that many groups are not only over-exposed to the deadly virus but also under-protected. Our survey found BME groups are more likely to be working outside their homes, using public transport, and living in households where they are less able to self-isolate and shield.
Black and ethnic minority workers are also more likely to have frontline jobs as key workers, and less likely to be provided with PPE. Factors such as living in overcrowded housing (particularly Black African, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi groups) and multi-generational households, means self-isolating and shielding is much more difficult."
Why this matters for wellbeing and wellbeing inequalities
We know thathealth is the most important driver of our subjective wellbeing. Contracting Covid-19 has a direct impact on people’s health. It causes anywhere from mild symptoms to long-term health conditions and in tragic cases, fatalities.
The mental health effects of such physical health risks can have a profound effect on our wellbeing. Increased exposure to the virus itself, and higher fatality rates is likely to have a particularly important and disproportionate impact on the wellbeing of people from ethnic minority groups.
People from ethnic minorities have been more affected by job losses and associated financial impacts, compounding existing economic inequalities. We know that the amount of income and wealth we have matters for our wellbeing, but it also matters how much we have compared to others. So where the economic gap widens, our wellbeing is affected even more.
The quality of our relationships and the place where we live is important for our wellbeing. Having spent more time at home over the last few months than ever before, this has likely heightened the impact of our living conditions on how happy we are and how we feel about our lives.
Negative stressors will have had a more significant impact, particularly for people who are also facing new health and employment challenges. Living in overcrowded homes, in particular, not only affects our wellbeing directly, but in the context of a contagious virus, makes it also more difficult to self-isolate, and for vulnerable people to shield effectively.
We are continuing to collect evidence on how people have been affected and invite more contributions here, and are using this to build an overall picture of the unequal impact of Covid-19 on wellbeing in the UK.