IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Communities in crises

This research project will explore the dynamics of social resources for resilience and recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project runs from September 2023 to August 2026 and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


The COVID-19 pandemic wrought acute harm across the world, not least through its tragic impact on morbidity and mortality. This includes worsening mental health, rising loneliness, financial/food insecurity, and economic hardship. Though the pandemic's onset was global, its impacts were not borne equally across societies, with greater harm among certain groups, such as the socio-economically disadvantaged, ethnic minorities, or youth/older populations. Furthermore, evidence from previous crises suggest that though the pandemic may have receded, it could have left deep and lasting scars across people's lives. Research is just beginning to explore the factors which mitigated and cushioned the harm of the pandemic, and the factors which may have prevented its scarring. 

Drawing on a multidisciplinary framework, and marshalling (national/international) longitudinal data, this project will produce the most detailed picture to date of the role that social resources, especially those embedded in residential communities, played, and are playing, in mitigating the pandemic's harm (processes of 'resilience') and reducing long-term scarring (processes of 'recovery'). 


The project will draw on multiple longitudinal datasets including the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), National Child Development Survey (NCDS) and English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). The cross-national analysis will draw on five panel datasets including the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP); French Coping with COVID (CWC) Panel; Japanese Life Course Panel Survey (JLPS); Korean Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS) (with older sample boost); and Understanding America (UA) panel. The project will employ longitudinal modelling to test the pandemic’s impact, and processes of resilience and recovery linked to social resources, by following changes within individuals over time.

Research aims

The project will advance our understanding of the dynamics of social resources before, during and after the pandemic:

  • It will explore: (a) how far social resources mitigated the pandemic's harm, and their role in reducing any pandemic-scarring; (b) what underpins such resilience (such as, social support, psychological resilience); (c) the role of social resources as a buffer among vulnerable groups; and (e) the efficacy of different types of social resources (e.g., strong and weak ties, formal and informal ties) in processes of resilience and recovery.
  • It will undertake novel tests into: (a) how the pandemic impacted social resources in the short- and long-term, asking were people coming together during the pandemic or coming apart; (b) whether any impacts on social resources were more pronounced among vulnerable groups; (c) what drove prosocial behaviour during the pandemic; and (d) how have any shifts in social resources since the pandemic have had long-term impacts on people's lives.
  • It will perform comparative analyses into: (a) how far social resource-related processes of resilience and recovery in the UK may be operating cross-nationally (France, Germany, Korea, Japan, USA); and (b) whether different forms of social resources (such as, strong versus weak ties) are more or less salient in different societies.
  • It will examine: (a) the role of social resources in people's likelihoods of infection, and (b) whether different types of social resources are linked with different levels of risk.

Together, this project will also produce novel, international evidence into long-term processes of pandemic-scarring, new sources of pandemic-vulnerability (e.g. digital-divides), and enduring debates into the causal role of social ties in people's lives.


Project lead

  • James Laurence


  • Dr Jan Goebel
  • Dr Kenji Ishida
  • Dr Harris Hyun-soo Kim
  • Professor Chaeyoon Lim
  • Professor James Nazroo

Additional information

Contact us

Quantitative Social Science (QSS)
Social Research Institute
IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society
University College London
20 Bedford way
London WC1H 0AL