Scientists predict how society will change after the eradication of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An interdisciplinary team of experts examined 90 studies to make predictions about the social impact of humanity’s long-term struggle with the new coronavirus will have.
“Even those who have not been infected with the virus will suffer social and psychological trauma,” the study found.
Gender inequality is strengthened
“Gender inequality could be reinforced by the lockdown, as well as the society becoming more conservative. The ongoing pandemic is a global social experiment,” say US researchers.
The psychological effects of the pandemic will result in reduced birth rates, people will remain unmarried for longer periods of time and women will enhance their sexuality, according to experts.
As the British daily ‘Daily Mail’ reports, research has shown that planned pregnancies will be reduced in response to the global health crisis, as people will postpone marriage and children, which will result in a shrinking population of some nations.
The reduction in the birth rate will have significant effects on society and the economy, affecting the workplace and the support units for the elderly.
In addition, the unequal distribution of domestic work brought about by “quarantine” could reinforce gender inequality by further promoting social conservatism.
A global social experiment
In many ways, the researchers note, “the pandemic has become a worldwide social experiment” – the results of which are not yet visible.
In their study, the researchers took into account factors such as behavioral science, economics, evolutionary biology and medicine.
“The psychological and social consequences of COVID-19 will be quite long-lasting,” said study author and psychologist Martie Haselton from the University of California, Los Angeles.
“In a lockdown, for example, those who met through social media and communicated via video conferencing to exchange views and see if they fit could be disappointed when they finally meet in the outside world. Does a pair have chemistry? You can not see it through Zoom”, adds the American professor.
The conclusion of new, digital relationships will probably lead to the over-idealisation of potential partners – a misunderstanding that may mean that cohabitation may not be finally feasible.
Bachelorhood will hit “red”
By missing opportunities for social encounters, individuals will be left without a life partner for a longer period of time.
Unlike previous crises, the research team notes, the pandemic does not bring people together and – for the most part – does not encourage an increase in compassion or empathy.
In addition, the pandemic has placed a greater burden on women, who, even before it, were charged with more responsibilities and family responsibilities towards men.
Lockdown, like school closures, for example, has placed women with more extensive responsibilities in the field of childcare and education.
For Professor Haselton, these effects are already being felt. For example, in academia, women researchers have fewer scientific publications than men.
The roots of this inequality are not only linked to traditional gender roles, researchers are quick to point out.
“Throughout evolutionary history, a woman’s reproductive fitness hinged on the success of each individual offspring to a greater extent than a man’s.”
Women have evolved to be more motivated to watch the details of childcare and may feel pressured to take on more responsibility for childcare and family when others, such as teachers and childcare workers, cannot.
The inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic could lead to a “Throughout evolutionary history, a woman’s reproductive fitness hinged on the success of each individual offspring to a greater extent than a man’s.”
Women end up dependent on their husbands as “the bearers of the house”.
“A consequence of the pandemic, therefore, could be a reduction in tolerance across a range of issues,” the researchers wrote.
In addition, Professor Haselton points out that financial inequality can result in many women boosting their sexuality to compete for the best man.
The team also used an evolutionary method to look at how the virus evolved to attack us – alongside the strategies we can and should use to combat it.
The virus reveals our weaknesses
Psychologists Benjamin Sates are also from the University of California, Los Angeles considers that “This virus also reveals our weaknesses”.
According to researchers, much of our inadequate response to the global health crisis is the result of humanity evolving – both genetically and socially – into an environment that has already changed. “This,” they add, “leads to ‘evolutionary inconsistencies’ with current conditions.”
According to Professor Haselton, the virus is “smart” because it has the ability to infect us through our contact with others – especially loved ones – who look healthy.
“Policies asking us to isolate and distance profoundly affect our families, work lives, relationships and gender roles,” say US scientists.