Allianz Care surveyed 1,311 respondents across the UK, France, Canada, the UAE and Singapore, with the intention of understanding the impact that Covid-19 had had on expats and their families. The criteria for these respondents was that they had to: have been born and educated in another country; aged 25 years+; be employed full-time/ self-employed; earned over €40,000; and have completed third level education.
The vast majority of those asked (73 per cent) said that the health and wellbeing of their family is now a crucial consideration in deciding whether to stay abroad or move back home, and 53 per cent said that their own health and wellbeing is now a greater priority. Considering that most of those surveyed (71 per cent) had moved abroad with their families, with 51 per cent of all respondents living in their new country with their children, it seems that pretty much everybody asked who had moved abroad with their families prioritised their dependents’ health and wellbeing. And that’s just as well because, consequently, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of the survey respondents said that living abroad has had a positive impact on their family’s overall health.
When asked why they thought this was, 22 per cent put this down to being able to achieve a better quality of life, while 21 per cent said it was due to the ability to access to better health and wellbeing services.
In terms of obtaining a better work/life balance, which was a big influential factor when moving overseas (70 per cent of those asked prioritised this, with 40 per cent making the initial move in search of this), it seems that moving abroad, for the most part, seems to have helped expats achieve this goal. Indeed, three in five respondents (60 per cent) say they have a better work-life balance living abroad than they had at home. That figure rises to 72 per cent in Canada and 71 per cent in the UAE. However, over a quarter (26 per cent) of those living in Singapore found the work/life balance to be worse there.
And what of healthcare? Well, while respondents generally agreed that their access to healthcare had improved while living abroad – 72 per cent in Singapore, 67 per cent in UAE, 62 per cent in France and 58 per cent in Canada found services better than in their home country – you’d likely be disappointed (and perhaps surprised) to learn that 23 per cent of those living in the UK said they found the quality of health and wellbeing services there worse than in their native country.
Commenting on the findings, Paula Covey, Allianz Partners Chief Marketing Officer for Health, said: “2020 has been a life-changing year for many of us across the world as we deal with the implications of Covid-19. Massive lifestyle changes have been forced on us almost overnight, which in turn have forced us to re-assess how we live our lives and re-evaluate what’s truly important. The same is absolutely true for the ‘expat’ community who are living and working across the globe. This comes across strongly in the increasing prioritisation of health and family.”
Covey explained that the research was ‘extremely useful for Allianz’, allowing the company to understand the challenges and considerations facing the global community in a post-Covid world: “It tells us where we can support in terms of tools, guidance and information,” she said. “It’s unsurprising that distance from friends and family is cited as the main challenge of living abroad (47 per cent), followed by the weather (39 per cent) and cultural differences for 33 per cent of respondents. We can’t change a country’s climate, but we can put services in place to support people’s mental health when they’re dealing with loneliness, missing their friends and family or struggling to adjust. We can also provide support to help people settle into their new home, with guidance on what cultural differences to expect in countries around the world. Listening to our customers means we can constantly adapt our services and offerings to meet ever-evolving healthcare needs. The pandemic has shown all of us just how fast things can change.”
Lastly, Allianz Care was sure to consider how preferences are changing when it comes to using the term ‘expat’ or ‘global citizen’. While term ‘expat’ is still the most popular one that people identify with in 2020 to describe people living and working in a country other than their native one, preferences are changing and differ significantly from country to country, Allianz says: “This community no longer refer to themselves solely as ‘expats’ preferring to use terms such as ‘global citizen’, ‘immigrant’ or ‘international worker’.”
Allianz details that in the UAE, ‘a region traditionally associated with expats’, the term is still widely used by more than three-quarters of people in this category (76 per cent). But that figure falls to 35 per cent in Singapore, under a quarter in the UK (24 per cent) and France (23 per cent) and just 11 per cent in Canada. In these countries, the term ‘global citizen’ is more widely used today, at 48 per cent in the UK, 33 per cent in France, 29 per cent in Singapore and 26 per cent in Canada.
It’s an interesting shift in perspective, and one that Hospitals & Healthcare feels reveals an increasing desire to be globally mobile, be part of an inclusive work culture, and have more responsibility for one’s impact in the world. It certainly seems that as globalisation continues (and despite Covid-19), people are increasingly displaying a yearning for a better work/life balance that gives them the emotional and physical support that they need and that places individual wellbeing front of mind.