News from a quiet city: a study on the social impact of COVID-19 in The Hague

COVID-19 has a strong impact on The Hague’s population. Many people have suffered from the loss of income, others avoid medical care or point out that they receive less medical care. But the fear is even stronger. Many people fear losing their jobs or businesses as a result of the coronavirus crisis. And it’s the most vulnerable groups who have been hit the hardest: those with temporary contracts, with lower levels of education, low-paid and with health conditions. They are more likely to be affected by the loss of income and to avoid or receive less medical care. In comparison with earlier studies conducted in Rotterdam and nationwide, fear and stress related to the corona crisis have significantly increased, especially among young people and people with a minimum income.

stille-stad ‘COVID-19 has a strong impact on The Hague’s population.
Many groups have been affected, and the most vulnerable ones have been hit the hardest.’

(dr. Katja Rusinovic, THUAS)

This is revealed by the News from a quiet city report, a study conducted by dr. Katja Rusinovic and dr. Henno Theisens from The Hague University of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with professor dr. Godfried Engbersen from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, dr. André Krouwel from VU University Amsterdam and the city of The Hague.

The research is based on a sample of 1,672 residents of The Hague. Its insights can be compared with a previously conducted nationwide survey of 6,601 respondents and a Rotterdam survey of 1,437 respondents.

Loss of employment and income

The report shows that a big proportion of The Hague’s citizens is afraid of losing work and income. This is particularly evident in the most vulnerable groups, although these have been joined by new groups, such as flexible workers and the self-employed.

Increased fear and stress

COVID-19 leads to an increase in fear and stress, especially among the young people and people on minimum income. Almost half of the young people report feeling more anxious and stressed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. A half of them also declares feeling as if they had nothing more to look forward to. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, 6 out of 10 of The Hague respondents on a minimum income report feeling anxious, stressed and mildly affected, and having more problems relaxing.

The Hague vs Rotterdam

In comparison with the earlier studies conducted in Rotterdam and nationwide, the estimated threat level of COVID-19 has decreased, but the corona-related fear and stress have seen a significant increase. Implemented measures, such as staying at home where possible and avoiding face-to-face contact with family members and friends, do not have the same level of support in The Hague as they do in Rotterdam or the Netherlands in general. One of the contributing factors is the fact that the survey in The Hague took place more than two weeks later, and during that period the mobility throughout the Netherlands has increased.