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The ‘welcomed lockdown’ hypothesis? Mental wellbeing and mobility restrictions

Costa-Font, Joan ORCID: 0000-0001-7174-7919, Knapp, Martin ORCID: 0000-0003-1427-0215 and Vilaplana-Prieto, Cristina (2023) The ‘welcomed lockdown’ hypothesis? Mental wellbeing and mobility restrictions. European Journal of Health Economics, 24 (5). pp. 679-699. ISSN 1618-7598

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s10198-022-01490-6


The COVID-19 pandemic and its mobility restrictions have been an external shock, influencing mental wellbeing. However, does risk exposure to COVID-19 affect the mental wellbeing effect of lockdowns? This paper examines the 'welcomed lockdown' hypothesis, namely the extent to which there is a level of risk where mobility restrictions are not a hindrance to mental wellbeing. We exploit the differential timing of exposure the pandemic, and the different stringency of lockdown policies across European countries and we focus on the effects on two mental health conditions, namely anxiety and depression. We study whether differences in the individual symptoms of anxiety and depression are explained by the combination of pandemic mortality and stringency of lockdown. We draw on an event study approach, complemented with a Difference-in-Difference (DiD), and Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD). Our estimates suggest an average increase in depression (3.95%) and anxiety (10%) symptoms relative to the mean level on the day that lockdown took effect. However, such effects are wiped out when a country's exhibits high mortality ('pandemic category 5'). Hence, we conclude that in an environment of high mortality, lockdowns no longer give rise to a reduction in mental wellbeing consistent with the 'welcome lockdown' hypothesis.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
Personal Social Services Research Unit
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I18 - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2022 10:36
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2024 23:45

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