Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications The mental health effects of the first two months of lockdown during the COVID‐19 pandemic in the UK

The mental health effects of the first two months of lockdown during the COVID‐19 pandemic in the UK

Journal article | Fiscal Studies, Volume 41, Issue 3

In this paper, we estimate the effects of the COVID‐19 pandemic on mental health in the UK. We use longitudinal micro data for the UK over the period 2009–20 to control for pre‐existing trends in mental health and construct individual‐specific counterfactual predictions for April 2020, against which the COVID‐19 mental health outcomes can be assessed. Our analysis reveals substantial effects at the population level, approximately equal in magnitude to the pre‐pandemic differences between the top and bottom quintiles of the income distribution. This overall effect was not distributed equally in the population – the pandemic had much bigger effects for young adults and for women, which are groups that already had lower levels of mental health before COVID‐19. Hence inequalities in mental health have been increased by the pandemic. Even larger effects are observed for measures of mental health that capture the number of problems reported or the fraction of the population reporting any frequent or severe problems, which more than doubled. Pre‐existing health vulnerabilities had no predictive power for subsequent changes in mental health.

Deaton inequality website

More on this topic

IFS Working Paper W22/08
In this article we review recent evidence showing how market forces and policies shape the rate and direction of innovation, with various implications for inequality.
IFS Working Paper W22/01
We review the effects on the Covid-19 pandemic on inequalities in education, the labour market, household living standards, mental health, and wealth in the UK.
Report summary
We examine the effects that the National Living Wage has had on wages, employment, and households’ incomes after accounting for taxes and benefits.
Millions of people missed out on hospital care during the pandemic, but still haven’t come forward to join the waiting list. Where are they?