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Women in Distress: Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic

E. Barili, Veronica Grembi and A.C. Rosso

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: Relying on a survey of more than 4,000 female respondents, we investigate the main determinants of women's mental distress during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy. We focus on two groups of variables to capture both the health and the economic emergency: present concerns and future expectations. Our results show that the main predictors of mental health are future expectations, such as the fear of losing a job, which is more relevant than concerns related to the spread of the virus. Younger women (less than 35), those lacking a high school degree, and those working in education or in remote work with school-aged children are in most distress. Using a panel fixed effects model that includes respondents to a re-call run in February 2021, we show that there was no adjustment to the new normal. Finally, using data on gender norms, we show that where the role of women is conceived in a more traditional way, the level of mental distress as driven by future employment is lower, suggesting that women's expectations for their role in society do play a relevant role in self-assessed well-being.

Keywords: mental health; COVID-19; expectations; gender stereotypes (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I1 I12 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur, nep-hea and nep-lab
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