Associates of Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania conducted an online survey of Transylvanian Hungarians between April 16-26 to find out about their attitude towards the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Researchers of the institute Balázs Telegdy, Ágnes Sántha, Laura Nistor and Orsolya Gergely presented their results via an online press conference last week.
Researchers made it clear at the beginning that the online survey was not based on statistical sampling, meaning that the results are not representative. Over 10 days, they received 1269 valid answers; a majority of respondents live in urban areas, with two-thirds having a permanent urban residence.
Looking at those with a permanent residence, almost three-quarters of the respondents live in the three counties of Szeklerland: Hargita/Harghita (37%), Kovászna/Covasna (21%) and Maros/Mureș (15%). A further 10% live in Kolozs/Cluj, and 6% in Bihar/Bihor. From an educational point of view, those with a higher education are overrepresented among the respondents; their average age is 37, and answers were mainly sent back by women.
Economic situation and financial status
Two-thirds of the respondents have financial savings, but in most cases (35%) it is only enough for three months; 25% have enough reserves for one year, and 13% even for a longer period. On the other hand, 12% of the respondents had no financial reserves at all at the beginning of the pandemic, while a smaller portion had some, but it is already gone. County-level data show that respondents from Kolozs and Maros counties have more savings than those living in the two Szekler counties of Hargita and Kovászna.
Attitude during #stayathome
Contact with extended family members and friends became more intense, and most of the respondents tried to pass time during the #stayathome period with some sort of work. It was typical for two-thirds of respondents to use work to take their minds off the pandemic. Other typical pastime activities were reading, watching movies and playing board games with close family members. Online religious activities, workouts and cultural activities, for example, online theaters and exhibitions on the other hand were less popular, as was voluntary activity related to the pandemic.
More than half of the respondents could completely (44%) or at least partly (15%) work from home during the lockdown, and only 25% of them went to their workplaces because their job required it. A further 13% have permanently or temporarily lost their job because of the pandemic.
More than half of the respondents have children (57%), and three-quarters of them (77%) are younger than 18 years old. During homeschooling, the typical attitude of parents toward teachers is empathic and understanding, which – according to the researchers – is a positive feedback.
Extremely low trust level in politicians and political institutions
The trust level towards politicians and political institutions turned out to be extremely low. Only 1% of the respondents have full trust in politicians and political parties, the interior ministry, and the entire Romanian government itself, which draws attention to a serious legitimacy problem. Taking into consideration these results, the generally low participation rate in the elections (among Transylvanian Hungarians) is also not a surprise.
The results of the study show that the mental health level of Transylvanian Hungarians correlates with their level of education; the higher this level is, the better their mental health. Researchers of Sapientia also found it noteworthy that overall, the mental health of elders is better than youngsters, but 35 to 44-year-olds are the ones with the highest mental health among all age groups.
The majority thinks that the world will not be significantly different from what it was before, and only less than one-quarter of respondents believe that either more subdued or more radical changes will take place in the world after the pandemic.
The full study (in Hungarian) is available here.
TItle image: Sapientia EMTE, Csíkszereda Facebook