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COVID-19 pandemic drives Australians to increasingly ‘shut themselves off from the rest of the world’ when at home

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2016 – June 2021. Average quarterly interviews, n = 13,468.
Base: Australians 14+.
New Roy Morgan data shows the COVID-19 pandemic is driving significant changes in how Australians view their home.

The latest figures from the June quarter 2021 show 54.5% of Australians 14+ now agree that ‘When I’m at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’ – a massive increase of 16% points compared to the March quarter 2020 just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic agreement with this statement had barely changed over the preceding four years, increasing by just over 1% point since the September quarter 2016.

Women have driven a larger share of this increase since the pandemic began than men. A clear majority of 58.5% of women agree with the statement in the June quarter 2021, an increase of 19.8% points from the March quarter 2020 and up over 21% points from five years ago.

In contrast only a narrow majority of 50.3% of men now agree with the statement, an increase of 12% points from the March quarter 2020 and up just over 13% points from five years ago.

The data comes from Roy Morgan Single Source, the nation’s largest and longest-running program of research into consumer behaviour and attitudes, continuously conducted year-round.

% of Australians agree:
‘When I'm at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’: 2016-21

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2016 – June 2021. Average quarterly interviews, n = 13,468. Base: Australians 14+.

Generation Z are the most likely to agree they like to shut themselves off from the world at home

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 has had a huge, and enduring, impact on how Australians of different ages respond to this statement. There have been sharp rises across all generations of people who agree that ‘when I’m at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’.

Over three-fifths of young people in Generation Z (60.7%) agree that ‘when I’m at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’ – an increase of 13.7% points from the March quarter 2020.

It turns out agreement with this statement is heavily co-related to age and decreases the older one gets – although the impact of COVID-19 on views on this statement also increases with age.

In the June quarter 2021 well over half of Millennials (58%, up 16.3% points from the March quarter 2020) and Generation X (56%, up 17.2% points) agree that ‘when I’m at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’. These two generations cover Australians born between 1961-1990 and aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

In contrast, older Australians aged 60 years and older are the least likely to agree with the statement – although since the COVID-19 pandemic began it is Australians aged 75+ who have changed their views the most. Now 44.8% of Baby Boomers (up 14.1% points from March quarter 2020) and 41.9% of Pre-Boomers (up 20.9% points) agree that ‘when I’m at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’.

% of Australians agree: ‘When I'm at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’ by Generation in March Quarter 2020 (pre COVID-19) cf. June Quarter 2021


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January – March 2020, n=10,852, April – June 2021, n=16,183. Base: Australians 14+.

Roy Morgan CEO, Michele Levine, says COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our way of life and this includes shaping our views on how we think of ourselves and places, such as our homes, that we have spent an inordinate amount of time at since the pandemic began:

“’My home is my castle’ is a well-worn phrase coined over 400 years ago that has never felt truer to millions of Australians over the last 18 months as we have been confined to our homes, and restricted from travelling, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores in full force in March 2020.

“We all know of the larger impacts of COVID-19 on society with borders closed, international travel banned and lockdowns forcing many Australians out of work for extended periods, but there are more subtle impacts on our way of thinking that haven’t been explored fully.

“One clear example is the way we think of our homes and we have seen a soaring number of Australians saying that ‘when I’m at home, I like to shut myself off from the rest of the world’ – now at 54.5% in the June quarter 2021 compared to only 38.5% in the March quarter 2020.

“This increase has been broad-based across both genders and people of all ages but even within this larger movement there are key differences. For instance, before COVID-19 arrived on our shores there was barely any gender gap on this question – but this is no longer the case.

“Over the past 18 months a significant gender gap has opened up with 58.5% of women (up 19.8% points) now agreeing they are ‘shutting off from the rest of the world when at home’ compared to a bare majority of 50.3% of men (up 12% points).

“There is also a clear age-based factor to this question with clear majorities of people in Generation Z (60.7%), Millennials (58%) and Generation X (56.1%) ‘shutting off from the rest of the world when at home’ compared to only 44.8% of Baby Boomers and 41.9% of Pre-Boomers.

“The age split is effectively for those aged over 60 years of age compared to those aged under 60 years of age. One factor that appears to be driving this split is participation in the workforce which comprises the vast majority of those aged under 60 whereas older Australians are more likely to be retired.

“The increasing vaccination rate means we are approaching a new stage in the pandemic known by some as ‘living with the virus’ and by others as ‘COVID-normal’. The transition to a re-opened society with a continuing level of infections is something Australians haven’t experienced before.

“It is hard to predict how Australians will react to ‘living with COVID’ and at Roy Morgan we will be keenly watching to see whether the attitudes that drive the behaviour of consumers that have changed significantly during the pandemic are sustained or return to pre-COVID levels in the months and years ahead.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

1,000

±3.0

±2.7

±1.9

±1.3

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

7,500

±1.1

±1.0

±0.7

±0.5

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2