A Tale of Three Countries: What is the Relationship Between COVID-19, Lockdown and Happiness?

Talita Greyling, Stephanie Rossouw, Tamanna Adhikari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic led many governments to implement lockdown regulations to curb the spread of the virus. Though lockdowns do minimise the physical damage caused by the virus, there may also be substantial damage to population well-being. Using a pooled data set, we analyse the relationship between a mandatory lockdown and happiness in three diverse countries: South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. These countries differ amongst others in terms of lockdown regulations and duration. The primary aim is to determine, whether a lockdown is negatively associated with happiness, notwithstanding the characteristics of a country or the strictness of the lockdown regulations. Second, we compare the effect size of the lockdown on happiness between these countries. We use Difference-in-Difference estimations to determine the association between lockdown and happiness and a Least Squares Dummy Variable estimation to study the heterogeneity in the effect size of the lockdown by country. Our results show that a lockdown is associated with a decline in happiness, regardless of the characteristics of the country or the type and duration of its lockdown regulations. Furthermore, the effect size differs between countries in the sense that the more stringent the stay-at-home regulations are, the greater it seems to be.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-43
Number of pages19
JournalSouth African Journal of Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • big data
  • COVID-19
  • difference-in-difference
  • Happiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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