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

36 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2021 Last revised: 28 Feb 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 in lower-income countries, where there may be limited social safety nets to absorb these shocks. We conduct a large phone survey and leverage India's geographically varied containment policies to estimate the association between the pandemic and 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, the greater prevalence of containment policies is associated with increased food insecurity, particularly for women, and reduced female mental health. For surveyed women, moving from zero to average containment levels is associated with a 38% increase in the likelihood of reporting more depression, a 73% increase in reporting more exhaustion, and a 44% increase in reporting more anxiety. Women whose social position may make them more vulnerable—those with daughters and those living in female-headed households—experience even 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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