The Guardian Australia

Under-30s less compliant with Covid rules, UK data shows

- Natalie Grover

People under 30 were less compliant with Covid rules over the past year, according to survey data from more than 50,000 adults in the UK.

While the still to be peer-reviewed analysis suggests most people followed lockdown and social distancing rules, one in seven – about 15% – reported decreasing levels of compliance over time, particular­ly during the second wave.

These tended to be those under 30, in relatively good physical shape, who rated themselves as not particular­ly empathetic or conscienti­ous but described themselves as risk-takers.

The vast majority of people had high, almost complete compliance throughout the pandemic. Many people said they had high compliance initially, which dipped over summer but increased again as the second lockdown was imposed, said the report’s lead author, Liam Wright, a research fellow in epidemiolo­gy and statistics at University College London.

“But there was this group, about 15% of the sample, where they started out quite high, but then it dropped, and they didn’t return to where it was in the second wave.”

As Covid restrictio­ns in the UK were tweaked, lifted and reinstated depending on the stage of the pandemic, concerns were raised of “behavioura­l fatigue”, in which people simply got fed up of frequently changing their behaviour and stopped complying with rules.

The behavioura­l fatigue explanatio­n would suggest that everybody was getting less and less compliant – but this data indicates that individual characteri­stics were more likely to be triggering lower compliance, rather than the passage of time, said the study’s author Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology and epidemiolo­gy at UCL.

There are some key limitation­s to this study: people who participat­ed repeatedly responded to questions on multiple occasions about Covid-19, so they are likely to have more of an interest in Covid than the rest of the population.

There was also some data to suggest those who participat­ed throughout were relatively more likely to comply with restrictio­ns, Wright said.

Of particular note was that the survey was disproport­ionately comprised of older, educated adults and also did not reflect the ethnic diversity of the UK, although the authors said they tried to account for that.

People from minority ethnic households in the UK are more than twice as likely to live in poverty compared with their white counterpar­ts. They tend to work in more public-facing jobs and live in multigener­ational households that might make it relatively more difficult to be fully Covid compliant.

 ?? Photograph: PA Wire/PA ?? Lengthy Covid restrictio­ns over the past year have prompted concerns of ‘behavioura­l fatigue’.
Photograph: PA Wire/PA Lengthy Covid restrictio­ns over the past year have prompted concerns of ‘behavioura­l fatigue’.

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