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Does caring for others affect our mental health? Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-23, 09:36 authored by Chiara Costi, Bruce Hollingsworth, Vincent O'SullivanVincent O'Sullivan, Eugenio Zucchelli

Despite a growing literature about the mental health effects of COVID-19, less is known about the psychological  costs of providing informal care during the pandemic. We examined longitudinal data from the UK’s Under-standing Society Survey, including eight COVID surveys, to estimate fixed effects difference-in-differences  models combined with matching, to explore the causal effects of COVID-19 among informal carers. While  matching accounts for selection on observables into caregiving, multiple period difference-in-differences specifications allow investigation of heterogeneous mental health effects of COVID-19 by timing and duration of  informal care. The estimates suggest that while mental health fluctuated following the imposition of social restrictions, informal carers who started caregiving during the pandemic show the largest mental health deterioration, especially during lockdowns. Policies to mitigate the psychological burden of caregiving might be more  effective if targeted at those starting to provide care for the first time.  

Funding

H2019/ HUM-5793

PID 2019- 105688RB-I00

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Publication

Social Science & Medicine 321, 115721

Publisher

Elsevier

Department or School

  • Economics

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