April 2020

IZA DP No. 13140: Lockdowns, Loneliness and Life Satisfaction

published as 'Life satisfaction, loneliness and togetherness, with an application to Covid-19 lock-downs' in: Review of Economics of the Household, 2020, 18, 983 - 1000

Using the 2012-13 American Time Use Survey, I find that both who people spend time with and how they spend it affect their happiness, adjusted for numerous demographic and economic variables. Satisfaction among married individuals increases most with additional time spent with spouse. Among singles, satisfaction decreases most as more time is spent alone. Assuming that lockdowns constrain married people to spend time solely with their spouses, simulations show that their happiness may have been increased compared to before the lockdowns; but sufficiently large losses of work time and income reverse this inference. Simulations demonstrate clearly that, assuming lockdowns impose solitude on singles, their happiness was reduced, reductions that are made more severe by income and work losses.