Published May 4, 2020 | Version v1
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In the eye of the hurricane. French society a month into the lockdown


How disruptive is COVID-19 to everyday life? How is the French population experiencing the lockdown? Is it magnifying inequalities and affecting social cohesion? The CoCo project sheds light on these pressing questions by comparing living conditions in France before, during, and after the lockdown. This is the second of a series of research briefs that we will publish in the forthcoming weeks. In this brief, we explore how French society has coped with the first month of the lockdown, particularly with the economy, self-reported health and well-being, and homeschooling.

Are people more concerned with protecting each other from a deadly virus or minimizing the economic damages of a protracted lockdown? Compared to two weeks ago, people are more worried about the economy than they are about health, especially in the case of those living in high-income households. When looking ahead to the partial re-opening that the government has set for 11 May 2020, French residents show a high degree of uncertainty. People waver in their commitment to this date depending on which aspect of the crisis they are taking into consideration. Only 35% of the population would want to end the lockdown on 11 May knowing that the virus is still running rampant in the country. When made to consider a potential catastrophic economic scenario, however, the share of those wishing to follow through on this date rises to 65%. Those in high-income households also prioritise the possibility of adopting a mobile app to help control the spread of the epidemic.
How do people assess their health and stress levels? The lockdown is not leading the French into depression. In self-assessments of their general health and well-being, people indicate higher scores than in previous years. We label this phenomenon the “eye of the hurricane” paradox: when a disruptive event breaks out, people seem to better appreciate their relative ‘good health’. However, the lockdown seems to psychologically distress individuals who are both working from home and going out less.
What are the main features and challenges of homeschooling? Two-thirds of parents, regardless of their educational background, supervise their children’s school work daily. The additional burden is a source of stress for some parents but is also contributing to parents’ understanding of their children’s learning needs.


Policy paper n° 2 - Project ''Coping with Covid-19. Social distancing, cohesion and inequality in 2020 France''. Funded by ANR (French National Research Agency), Call Flash Covid-19



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