Women's Well-Being During a Pandemic and its Containment

28 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2021 Last revised: 26 Jan 2022

See all articles by Natalie Bau

Natalie Bau

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Gaurav Khanna

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Corinne Low

University of Pennsylvania

Manisha Shah

UCLA; NBER

Sreyashi Sharmin

Stanford University

Alessandra Voena

University of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2021

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the dual crises of disease and the containment policies designed to mitigate it. Yet, there is little evidence on the impacts of these policies on women, who are likely to be especially vulnerable, in lower-income countries. We conduct a large phone survey and leverage India's geographically-varying containment policies to estimate the association between both the pandemic and its containment policies, and measures of women's well-being, including mental health and food security. On aggregate, the pandemic resulted in dramatic income losses, increases in food insecurity, and declines in female mental health. While potentially crucial to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases, we find that greater prevalence of containment policies is associated with increased food insecurity, particularly for women, and with reduced female mental health. Average containment levels are associated with a 39-40% increase in the likelihood of sadness, depression, and hopelessness among women and with an increase in the likelihood that women feel more worried by 45% of the variable mean. Particularly vulnerable groups of women, those with daughters and those living in female-headed households, experience larger declines in mental health.

Suggested Citation

Bau, Natalie and Khanna, Gaurav and Low, Corinne and Shah, Manisha and Sharmin, Sreyashi and Voena, Alessandra, Women's Well-Being During a Pandemic and its Containment (August 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w29121, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3901578

Natalie Bau (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Gaurav Khanna

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.econgaurav.com

Corinne Low

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Manisha Shah

UCLA ( email )

Department of Public Policy
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656
United States

HOME PAGE: http://luskin.ucla.edu/person/manisha-shah

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Sreyashi Sharmin

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Alessandra Voena

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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