The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on socioeconomic inequality in psychological distress in the UK

Davillas, Apostolos and Jones, Andrew M. (2021) The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on socioeconomic inequality in psychological distress in the UK. Health Economics, 30 (7). pp. 1668-1683. ISSN 1057-9230

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Abstract

We use data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) to compare measures of socioeconomic inequality in psychological distress, measured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), before (Waves 9 and the Interim 2019 Wave) and during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (April to July 2020). Based on a caseness measure, the prevalence of psychological distress increased from 18.5% to 27.7% between the 2019 Wave and April 2020 with some reversion to earlier levels in subsequent months. Also, there was a systematic increase in total inequality in the Likert GHQ-12 score. However, measures of relative socioeconomic inequality have not increased. A Shapley-Shorrocks decomposition analysis shows that during the peak of the first wave of the pandemic (April 2020) other socioeconomic factors declined in their share of socioeconomic inequality, while age and gender account for a larger share. The most notable increase is evident for younger women. The contribution of working in an industry related to the COVID-19 response played a small role at Wave 9 and the Interim 2019 Wave, but more than tripled its share in April 2020. As the first wave of COVID-19 progressed, the contribution of demographics declined from their peak level in April and chronic health conditions, housing conditions, and neighbourhood characteristics increased their contributions to socioeconomic inequality.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Acknowledgements: Understanding Society is an initiative funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and various Government Departments, with scientific leadership by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, and survey delivery by NatCen Social Research and Kantar Public. The research data are distributed by the UK Data Service. Andrew Jones acknowledges funding from the Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (MRF‐2016‐004). The funders, data creators and UK Data Service have no responsibility for the contents of this paper. We are grateful to Stephen Jenkins, Nicolas Pistolesi, Carol Propper and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version.
Uncontrolled Keywords: covid-19,ghq,health equity,mental health,psychological distress,socioeconomic inequality,health policy ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2719
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2021 01:29
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2021 01:18
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79607
DOI: 10.1002/hec.4275

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