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Psychological Suffering Owing to Lockdown or Fear of Infection? Evidence from the COVID-19 Outbreak in China

Beomsoo Kim () and Yang Zhao ()
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Beomsoo Kim: Department of Economics, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Yang Zhao: Department of Economics, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

No 2008, Discussion Paper Series from Institute of Economic Research, Korea University

Abstract: This study aimed to estimate the impact of city lockdown on mental health of residents in 15 cities in the Hubei Province, China. Given the lack of epidemiological data on mental health and suicide during the COVID-19 period, we used the Baidu keyword search index as an indicator of mental health and applied Difference-In-Difference estimation using data from the same period in 2019 as the control group. We found that people in Wuhan and in other cities in Hubei showed different patterns/changes in internet keyword search frequency; for the keywords of depression, scared, fear, anxiety, stress, nervous, and fatigue in other cities in Hubei, there was an increase of 225%, 235%, 216%, 371%, 335%, and 92%, respectively, in 2020 compared with 2019. In Wuhan, there was an increase of 20%, 49%, 75%, 36%, 31%, and 45%, respectively, in 2020 compared with 2019. In Wuhan, there were no significant search frequency changes for the self-harm and suicide keywords in 2020 compared with 2019. Although the other cities in Hubei experienced a relatively smaller number of confirmed cases compared with Wuhan, these two keywords showed significant changes in these cities in 2020 compared with 2019.

Keywords: COVID-19; Lockdown; Mental Health; Baidu Index; Difference-in-Differences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

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