The gender gap in mental well-being at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK

Eur Econ Rev. 2022 Jun:145:104114. doi: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2022.104114. Epub 2022 Apr 18.


We assess the decline in mental health after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. This decline was more than twice as large for women as for men. We seek to explain this gender gap by exploring gender differences in: family and caring responsibilities; financial and work situation; social engagement; health situation, and health behaviours, including exercise. We assess their quantitative relevance by applying standard decomposition methods. We find that compositional differences in family and caring responsibilities explain part of the gender gap, but more important are gender differences in social factors, particularly changes in loneliness. We explore this result further by analysing gender differences in personality traits. Even after controlling for all factors there remains a noticeable age-gender gradient, with young females suffering particularly badly.

Keywords: Covid-19; Gender; Mental health; Mental well-being.