The combined effect of Covid-19 and neighbourhood deprivation on two dimensions of subjective well-being: Empirical evidence from England

Franco Bonomi Bezzo, Laura Silva, Maarten van Ham

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Abstract

Objectives The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting societies hard, and people living in disadvantaged circumstances are among the most affected. We investigate the combined effects of the Covid-19 crisis and living in a deprived neighbourhood on two dimensions of subjective well-being: hedonic (i.e. mental health) and evaluative (i.e. life satisfaction) subjective well-being. Methods We use longitudinal data from the Understanding Society UK panel. We combine data gathered in the main survey between 2015 and 2019 with very recent data from the Covid-19 online survey between April and July 2020. Leveraging a sample of nearly 9,600 English individuals, we first run a set of cross-sectional OLS regressions to analyse changes over time in the relationship between neighbourhood deprivation and subjective well-being. Then, as our main model of interest, we use a fixed effect difference-in-differences model to provide more robust evidence. Results Since the beginning of the crisis, both levels of hedonic and evaluative well-being have decreased as a result of the pandemic and lockdown. However, for those living in more deprived neighbourhoods the level of hedonic well-being decreased more than for those living in better areas. We found no such difference for evaluative well-being. Conclusion Our results highlight the importance of reducing neighbourhood inequalities as the spatial clustering of disadvantages has increased by the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0255156
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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