Prosperity Project, Wave 2: Rising stress, anxiety, and depression among women during COVID-19

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March 14, 2021 – Mental health concerns are on the rise among Canada’s working women, especially mothers, as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, according to the second Prosperity Project survey exploring the impact of the pandemic on women in Canada.

Conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights in partnership with The Prosperity Project and CIBC, the second national survey of more than 1,000 adults found women much more likely than men to feel anxious, stressed, and depressed during the pandemic’s second wave as compared to the first. Although employment situations have not changed substantially since the first survey in August 2020, mental health has declined significantly. These feelings are even higher among working mothers, who reported experiencing higher levels of stress (52%), anxiety (47%) and depression (43%), compared to working women without children (36%; 38%; 29%). These levels are also higher when compared to working fathers (37%; 40%; 27%).

In addition to worries about helping with schoolwork and their children’s safety, mothers are also more likely to feel guilty about not spending time with their children and are more likely to turn down jobs or promotions to spend more time with their family. The survey also found that, during the pandemic’s second wave, women were more likely to consider quitting their job, ask for reduced working hours or take a position with different working conditions.

Other highlights of the poll include:

  • Women continue to be more worried about their household finances, particularly about repaying debts they already have and paying household bills. However, a plurality of men is also concerned. Working parents are much more concerned about all these issues than those who don’t have children.
  • Four-in-ten respondents men (41%) and women (40%) say they have had to use their savings during the pandemic to make ends meet. Working parents (48% of working mothers, compared to 44% of working fathers), reported having to dip into their savings than those without children (35% women; 38% men).
  • 44% of women feel that they will face an economic recession and lack of job prospects once the pandemic is over. 
  • Notably, more racialized/visible minority women (41%) than white women (29%) believe that women are less likely to be considered for jobs after the pandemic.

On behalf of the Prosperity Project, Pollara Strategic Insights conducted an online survey among a randomly-selected, reliable sample of N=1,003 adult Canadians from January 26-February 1, 2021. As a guideline, a probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. Demographic and regional quotas were used to ensure reliable and comparable sub-segment analysis, and the data was weighted by the most current gender, age, and region Census data to ensure the sample reflects the actual population of adult Canadians.

This survey is part of The Prosperity Project’s 2021 Canadian Households’ Perspective on the New Economy initiative. Partner organizations in the initiative are Enterprise Canada, CIBC, and Pollara Strategic Insights.

Visit The Prosperity Project website for the complete reports to both waves of this ongoing study.

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