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Mental Health Costs of Lockdowns: Evidence from Age-Specific Curfews in Turkey


  • Altindag, Onur

    (Bentley University)

  • Erten, Bilge

    (Northeastern University)

  • Keskin, Pinar

    (Wellesley College)


Using a strict, age-specific lockdown order for adults aged 65 and older in Turkey, we examine the mental health consequences of an extended period of tight mobility restrictions on senior adults. Adopting a regression discontinuity design, we find that the curfew-induced decline in mobility substantially worsened mental health outcomes, including somatic and nonsomatic symptoms of mental distress (approximately 0.2 standard deviation). Exploring potential channels, we document an increase in social and physical isolation, with no evidence of robust changes in labor market outcomes or intrahousehold conflict for this subpopulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Altindag, Onur & Erten, Bilge & Keskin, Pinar, 2021. "Mental Health Costs of Lockdowns: Evidence from Age-Specific Curfews in Turkey," IZA Discussion Papers 14281, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14281

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    1. Fasani, Francesco & Leone Sciabolazza, Valerio & Molini, Vasco, 2022. "Facing Displacement and a Global Pandemic: Evidence from a Fragile State," CEPR Discussion Papers 17104, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. David J. Hebert & Michael D. Curry, 2022. "Optimal lockdowns," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 193(3), pages 263-274, December.
    3. Czura, Kristina & Englmaier, Florian & Ho, Hoa & Spantig, Lisa, 2022. "Microfinance loan officers before and during Covid-19: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    4. Quintana-Domeque Climent & Proto Eugenio, 2022. "On the Persistence of Mental Health Deterioration during the COVID-19 Pandemic by Sex and Ethnicity in the UK: Evidence from Understanding Society," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(2), pages 361-372, April.
    5. Quintana-Domeque, Climent & Zeng, Jingya, 2023. "COVID-19 and Mental Health: Natural Experiments of the Costs of Lockdowns," IZA Discussion Papers 16532, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Michael Vlassopoulos & Abu Siddique & Tabassum Rahman & Debayan Pakrashi & Asad Islam & Firoz Ahmed, 2021. "Improving Women's Mental Health During a Pandemic," Munich Papers in Political Economy 11, Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and the School of Management at the Technical University of Munich.
    7. García-Prado, Ariadna & González, Paula & Rebollo-Sanz, Yolanda F., 2022. "Lockdown strictness and mental health effects among older populations in Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C).
    8. Francesco Bogliacino & Cristiano Codagnone & Frans Folkvord & Francisco Lupiáñez-Villanueva, 2023. "The impact of labour market shocks on mental health: evidence from the Covid-19 first wave," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 40(3), pages 899-930, October.
    9. Francesca Marazzi & Andrea Piano Mortari & Federico Belotti & Giuseppe Carrà & Ciro Cattuto & Joanna Kopinska & Daniela Paolotti & Vincenzo Atella, 2022. "Staying Strong, But For How Long? Mental Health During COVID-19 in Italy," CEIS Research Paper 541, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 26 Apr 2022.
    10. Bonander, Carl & Chauca Strand, Gabriella & Jakobsson, Niklas, 2023. "Direct replication and additional sensitivity analyses for Altindag et al. (2022): A replication report from the Oslo Replication Games," I4R Discussion Paper Series 16, The Institute for Replication (I4R).
    11. Cho, Yoonyoung & Molina, Teresa, 2024. "The Importance of Existing Social Protection Programs for Mental Health in Pandemic Times," IZA Discussion Papers 16737, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Altindag, Onur & Erten, Bilge & Keskin, Pinar, 2023. "A Reply to Comment by Bonander et al. (2023)," I4R Discussion Paper Series 17, The Institute for Replication (I4R).
    13. Valerie Mueller & Karen Grépin & Atonu Rabbani & Anne Ngunjiri & Amy Oyekunle & Clare Wenham, 2023. "Domestic Burdens Amid Covid-19 and Women’s Mental Health in Middle-Income Africa," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 192-218, April.
    14. Lindley, Joanne & Rienzo, Cinzia, 2021. "The Effect of Repeated Lockdowns during the Covid-19 Pandemic on UK Mental Health Outcomes," GLO Discussion Paper Series 977, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    15. , 2023. "The Political Consequences of Vaccines: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Eligibility Rules," Working Papers 953, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.

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    More about this item


    lockdown; mental health; COVID-19; regression discontinuity; Turkey;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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