Changes in Working Women’s Self-Reported Levels of Stress, Fatigue, and Quality of Interpersonal Relationships During COVID-19: A Comparison of Essential and Non-Essential Workers in Singapore
41 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2021 Last revised: 31 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 29, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented crisis for working women, but no global consensus on the effects on their well-being has emerged due to differing institutional responses and effectiveness of public health messaging and management. This article focuses on changes in working women’s self-reported levels of stress, fatigue and quality of interpersonal relationships in Singapore, one of the first countries to be hit by the pandemic. Using longitudinal data collected in 2018 and during the 2020 lockdown, we compare the results for women working in essential and non-essential jobs. We consider three mechanisms for differential outcomes: i) risk of income loss, ii) perceived risks of being infected by the coronavirus, and iii) exposure to quarantine conditions, which may be particularly stressful for working women who face the challenge of balancing work and family life. Results from OLS and multinomial logit regression models suggest that in the case of Singapore, where quarantine conditions were very strict, women who identified as essential workers experienced significantly lower increases in self-reported stress levels and were significantly less likely to report changes in spousal relationships, and that the results are primarily driven by working outside of the home. Heterogeneity analysis shows that only female essential workers in higher-income families enjoyed lower stress and fatigue than their peers, but not necessarily better relationships.
Keywords: COVID-19; stress; fatigue; interpersonal relationships; essential workers
JEL Classification: D19, J12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation