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Gender, Loneliness and Happiness during COVID-19

SOEPpapers 1178, 26 S.

Anthony Lepinteur, Andrew E. Clark, Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Alan Piper, Carsten Schröder, Conchita D'Ambrosio


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Published in: Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics 101 (2022)


We analyse a measure of loneliness from a representative sample of German individuals interviewed in both 2017 and at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Both men and women felt lonelier during the COVID-19 pandemic than they did in 2017. The pandemic more than doubled the gender loneliness gap: women were lonelier than men in 2017, and the 2017-2020 rise in loneliness was far larger for women. This rise is mirrored in life-satisfaction scores. Men’s life satisfaction changed only little between 2017 and 2020; yet that of women fell dramatically, and sufficiently so to produce a female penalty in life satisfaction. We estimate that almost all of this female penalty is explained by the disproportionate rise in loneliness for women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carsten Schröder

Direktorium in der Infrastruktureinrichtung Sozio-oekonomisches Panel

JEL-Classification: I10;I14;I18;I30
Keywords: Loneliness, Life Satisfaction, Gender, COVID-19, SOEP