Covid-19, Lockdowns and Well-Being: Evidence from Google Trends

55 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020

See all articles by Abel Brodeur

Abel Brodeur

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Ottawa - Department of Economics

Andrew Clark

Paris School of Economics (PSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sarah Fleche

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Nattavudh Powdthavee

University of Warwick

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many governments to implement lockdowns. While lockdowns may help to contain the spread of the virus, they may result in substantial damage to population well-being. We use Google Trends data to test whether the lockdowns implemented in Europe and America led to changes in well-being related topic search terms. Using differences-in-differences and a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the causal effects of lockdown, we find a substantial increase in the search intensity for boredom in Europe and the US. We also found a significant increase in searches for loneliness, worry and sadness, while searches for stress, suicide and divorce on the contrary fell. Our results suggest that people's mental health may have been severely affected by the lockdown.

Keywords: boredom, COVID-19, loneliness, well-being

JEL Classification: I12, I31, J22

Suggested Citation

Brodeur, Abel and Brodeur, Abel and Clark, Andrew Eric and Fleche, Sarah and Powdthavee, Nattavudh, Covid-19, Lockdowns and Well-Being: Evidence from Google Trends. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3596670 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3596670

Abel Brodeur (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics ( email )

200 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/abelbrodeur/

Andrew Eric Clark

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Sarah Fleche

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Nattavudh Powdthavee

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom
+44 (0)2476 528240 (Phone)

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