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Culture and mental health resilience in times of COVID-19

Annie Tubadji

Journal of Population Economics, 2021, vol. 34, issue 4, No 4, 1219-1259

Abstract: Abstract This paper aims to clarify the role of culture as a public good that serves to preserve mental health. It tests the evolutionary hypothesis that cultural consumption triggers a microeconomic mechanism for the self-defense of mental health from uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic offers a natural experiment of cultural consumption under increased uncertainty. Using primary data from a pilot survey conducted online during the pandemic and applying Probit and Heckman selection models, the study analyzes levels of happiness and propensity to help others. The results suggest that past consumption of culture is associated with higher happiness levels during crises. Moreover, spontaneous cultural practices (such as group singing) during times of uncertainty are associated with an increase in the pro-social propensity to help others. These findings highlight culture as a tool for promoting mental health at the micro level and social capital resilience at the aggregate level.

Keywords: Culture; Mental health; Anxiety; Happiness; Social capital; COVID-19 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H51 I18 N30 P36 R11 Z10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-021-00840-7

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