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The psychological consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns

Kien Le and My Nguyen

International Review of Applied Economics, 2021, vol. 35, issue 2, 147-163

Abstract: COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the largest number of lockdowns worldwide in history. While lockdowns may reduce the spread of COVID-19, the downside costs of this approach could be dreadful. By exploiting the differential timing of lockdown implementation across the United States within a difference-in-differences framework, we find that the pandemic lockdowns are associated with a variety of adverse psychological outcomes, namely, anxiety, worry, disinterest, depression, and poor general health perception. Our mechanism analyses suggest that these detrimental impacts could be attributed to concerns towards food, housing, and employment security. We further show that African Americans and women are especially susceptible to the adverse repercussions of the lockdowns. The findings imply that lockdowns should be accompanied by policies aimed to prevent mental health burden and deepening inequality.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1080/02692171.2020.1853077

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