Residential mobility restrictions and adverse mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK

Ho Fai Chan*, Zhiming Cheng, Silvia Mendolia, Alfredo R. Paloyo, Massimiliano Tani, Damon Proulx, David A. Savage , Benno Torgler

*Corresponding author for this work

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, several governments tried to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with lockdowns that prohibited leaving one’s residence unless carrying out a few essential services. We investigate the relationship between limitations to mobility and mental health in the UK during the first year and a half of the pandemic using a unique combination of high-frequency mobility data from Google and monthly longitudinal data collected through the Understanding Society survey. We find a strong and statistically robust correlation between mobility data and mental health survey data and show that increased residential stationarity is associated with the deterioration of mental wellbeing even when regional COVID-19 prevalence and lockdown stringency are controlled for. The relationship is heterogeneous, as higher levels of distress are seen in young, healthy people living alone; and in women, especially if they have young children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1790
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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