Töölönlahti Bay at the Corona spring. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro, City of Helsinki

Spring of coronavirus changed lives of Helsinki residents, but faith in the future is strong

The corona outbreak had a negative impact on the quality of life, especially for the elderly and young people in Helsinki. However, a majority of the respondents of the Helsinki Barometer said that their total quality of life was still good. The results of the Helsinki Barometer survey, conducted by the Helsinki City Executive Office in late May, are analysed in a fresh article of the Kvartti webzine.

In spring 2020, the Helsinki Barometer surveyed the citizens’ feelings concerning the extraordinary circumstances caused by the coronavirus epidemic and the residents’ opinions on the City’s actions during the coronavirus outbreak. The telephone interviews with around 1,000 respondents were conducted at the end of May.

The coronavirus outbreak had an impact on the majority of the respondents. Almost every fourth respondent said that the coronavirus had had a mainly negative effect on their quality of life. However, women saw more positive sides to the corona outbreak than men. 60 per cent of the women and 50 per cent of the men said that the coronavirus outbreak had had both a positive and negative impact on the quality of life.

Even though the coronavirus epidemic had negative effects for the people of Helsinki, a majority (86%) of the respondents still said that their total quality of life was good. For respondents over the age of 70, the percentage was a little lower, but even there, 79 per cent said that their quality of life was good.

The elderly and young people suffered the most

Elderly respondents had experienced the most negative effects on their own quality of life. However, more than a quarter (28 %) of the respondents over 70 years old felt that the coronavirus situation had not changed their lives.

Young adults under the age of 30 was the other group, which had a particularly negative experience with the coronavirus outbreak. Of this age group, almost half (45 %) lived alone and the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak is emphasised among those living alone. Among young adults, the coronavirus outbreak caused financial worries, loneliness and boredom.

Worry for friends and family, but strong faith in the future

35 per cent of the respondents were at least “somewhat worried” about the impact of the epidemic on the family and near relatives. The youngest respondents were the least worried about the impact of the epidemic on themselves; 10 per cent said that they were at least “somewhat worried”. The concern increased with age, but, surprisingly, not by very much: 22 per cent of the respondents over the age of 70 were at least “somewhat worried”.

The respondents had a positive outlook on the future. The outlook on the near future is optimistic: 40 per cent estimated that their situation 6 months from now is better than now, and 47 per cent that their situation 6 months from now is the same as now. Only 5 per cent estimated that their situation 6 months from now is worse than now.

Respondents happy with the City’s services during the coronavirus outbreak

Helsinki’s services during the extraordinary circumstances were generally well received. The Helsinki Helpline aimed at residents over the age of 70 received the most positive evaluation. The school distance learning was also rated favourably: 90 per cent of the students and parents were at least somewhat satisfied with the distance learning.

The financial support and benefits received the worst ratings from the respondents. Here, 27 per cent were dissatisfied.

More people recommended Helsinki as a place to live

The Helsinki Barometer also included a question concerning the respondent’s likeliness to recommend Helsinki and the own residential area, which is a follow-up indicator for the City Strategy. Helsinki was now clearly more recommended as a place to live than in the 2019 autumn survey. The share of people who recommended Helsinki increased from 36 per cent to 52 per cent and the share people who would not recommend Helsinki decreased from 19 per cent to 10 per cent.

The research material does not reveal why the recommendation index improved, but the researchers of the Helsinki Barometer think that the city residents may appreciate functionality in everyday life more during the crisis. The respondents may also have compared the situation in Helsinki with several other large European cities, where there have been more restrictions and virus cases.

The Helsinki Barometer is a biannual survey conducted by the Urban Research and Statistics unit at the Helsinki City Executive Office, which follows the residents’ opinions on Helsinki. The Barometer is also a part of the follow-up indicators of the Helsinki City Strategy. The Helsinki Barometer that was conducted through telephone interviews in May-June focused especially on the effects of the coronavirus epidemic and figure out the experiences of the residents. A total of 1,038 Helsinki residents aged 18-79 years participated in the interviews.

Further information

Keskinen, Vesa & Hirvonen, Jukka: Helsinki Barometer: Worry about the coronavirus outbreak, but also faith in the future, Kvartti webzine 25 June 2020 (In Finnish)

Helsinki Barometer 2019:

Keskinen, Vesa – Väliniemi-Laurson, Jenni – Hirvonen, Jukka. Helsinki-barometri: Residents find the city functional. Kvartti webzine 3 February 2020. (In Finnish)

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro, City of Helsinki