The relationship between COVID-19 policies and subjective wellbeing – August 2022
The aim of this paper is to examine the trends and determinants of wellbeing in Australia over the entire COVID-19 period, up to and including August 2022. In particular, we make use of multiple waves of the COVID-19 Impact Monitoring Survey data, focusing on the relationship between individual wellbeing and the severity of COVID-19 related policies, as measured by the stringency index by state/territory and, for all jurisdictions apart from the ACT, by capital city/non-capital city. This is the first analysis linking policy responses to a range of wellbeing outcomes in Australia at the individual level and for multiple time periods. While there have been a number of papers examining the impact of COVID-19 policies on wellbeing, Australia provides an important examination of this issue due to the relatively low rates of COVID-19 in the population for the majority of the pandemic period. By making use of a geographic specific index of COVID-19 policy responses as well asstate-level case numbers across 13 waves of data collected during the pandemic period we are able to show that increases in policy stringency and increases in cases are both associated with a worsening in wellbeing at the individual level, but also that the association with the stringency value seems to be much stronger. We find a strong relationship also with a number of mental health measures, as well as a person’s level of loneliness.