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The COVID-19 Pandemic and Mental Health: Disentangling Crucial Channels


  • Siflinger, Bettina M.

    (Tilburg University)

  • Paffenholz, Michaela

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Seitz, Sebastian

    (University of Manchester)

  • Mendel, Moritz

    (briq and University of Bonn)

  • Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von

    (University of Bonn)


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a major source of concern has been its effect on mental health. Using pre-pandemic information and five customized questionnaires in the Dutch LISS panel, we investigate how mental health in the working population has evolved along with the most prominent risk factors associated with the pandemic. Overall, mental health decreased sharply with the onset of the first lockdown but recovered fairly quickly. In December 2020, levels of mental health are comparable to those in November 2019. We show that perceived risk of infection, labor market uncertainty, and emotional loneliness are all associated with worsening mental health. Both the initial drop and subsequent recovery are larger for parents of children below the age of 12. Among parents, the patterns are particularly pronounced for fathers if they shoulder the bulk of additional care. Mothers' mental health takes a particularly steep hit if they work from home and their partner is designated to take care during the additional hours.

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  • Siflinger, Bettina M. & Paffenholz, Michaela & Seitz, Sebastian & Mendel, Moritz & Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von, 2021. "The COVID-19 Pandemic and Mental Health: Disentangling Crucial Channels," IZA Discussion Papers 14266, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14266

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hans Martin von Gaudecker & Radost Holler & Lena Janys & Bettina Siflinger & Christian Zimpelmann, 2020. "Labour Supply During Lockdown and a “New Normal”: The Case of the Netherlands," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2020_211, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    2. Gema Zamarro & María J. Prados, 2021. "Gender differences in couples’ division of childcare, work and mental health during COVID-19," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 11-40, March.
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    6. Abi Adams-Prassl & Teodora Boneva & Marta Golin & Christopher Rauh, 2020. "The Impact of the Coronavirus Lockdown on Mental Health: Evidence from the US," Working Papers 2020-030, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    7. Van de Velde, Sarah & Bracke, Piet & Levecque, Katia, 2010. "Gender differences in depression in 23 European countries. Cross-national variation in the gender gap in depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 305-313, July.
    8. McInerney, Melissa & Mellor, Jennifer M. & Nicholas, Lauren Hersch, 2013. "Recession depression: Mental health effects of the 2008 stock market crash," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1090-1104.
    9. Pablo de Pedraza & Martin Guzi & Kea Tijdens, 2020. "Life Dissatisfaction and Anxiety in COVID-19 pandemic," MUNI ECON Working Papers 2020-03, Masaryk University, revised Feb 2023.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lepinteur, Anthony & Clark, Andrew E. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Piper, Alan & Schröder, Carsten & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2022. "Gender, loneliness and happiness during COVID-19," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 101(C).
    2. Ringdal, Charlotte & Rootjes, Frank, 2022. "Depression and labor supply: Evidence from the Netherlands," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C).
    3. Anna SPINARDI & Nigora ISAMIDDINOVA & Irene CLAVIJO & Kevin HENKENS, 2022. "Mental Health and Gender Inequality in the MENA Region: An Analysis of Shock Related Factors Within the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic," Working Paper 7b4fa973-422c-4998-8e78-0, Agence française de développement.
    4. Kristine Khachatryan & Manfred E. Beutel & Yve Stöbel-Richter & Markus Zenger & Hendrik Berth & Elmar Brähler & Peter Schmidt, 2022. "Are Attitudes towards COVID-19 Pandemic Related to Subjective Physical and Mental Health?," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(21), pages 1-16, November.

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    More about this item


    COVID-19; mental health; gender inequality; lockdown;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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