The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the General Public in Urban and Rural Areas in Southern Japan

Keiko Sasaki, Tomohiro Ichinose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Urban and rural areas are situated in contrasting physical and social settings, which influence their levels of exposure as well as their preventive behaviors in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The study investigated whether there were differences between the areas regarding the levels of difficulty and anxiety felt by the general public during the first wave of COVID-19 in April and May 2020. We conducted an online questionnaire in Fukuoka and Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan via a private research company and collected a total of 913 valid responses from individuals whose conditions of employment were affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Although urban areas experienced higher case rates compared to rural areas, ordinal logistic regression analysis revealed no significant differences between urban and rural respondents concerning the level of difficulty in routine life. The daily-life contents which made them feel difficult during the first wave also did not differ largely between the contrasting areas. Urban respondents appeared to have experienced a higher level of difficulty in finding an alternative job, but how respondents found one, if successful, did not differ between urban and rural areas. The area of residence played a role in explaining the level of anxiety toward being infected, especially when the anxiety-related questions involved relationships with neighbors. Rural respondents showed a significantly higher level of anxiety toward causing neighbors trouble and being criticized if infected. Respondents who were better embedded in their communities generally felt more anxious about being infected, regardless of whether they lived in urban or rural areas. Women and respondents with children were more likely affected by abnormal situations caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Our study highlights the prevailing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the general public regardless of whether in urban or rural settings, as well as the potential contribution of social ties among people to protecting communities from infectious pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2277
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 1


  • Anxiety
  • Area of residence
  • Coronavirus
  • Difficulty
  • Relationship with neighbors
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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