On the persistence of mental health deterioration during the COVID-19 pandemic by sex and ethnicity in the UK: evidence from Understanding Society

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

April 15, 2022


We use longitudinal data from a representative sample of the UK and compare self-reported mental health, as measured by the GHQ-12 score, at three timepoints (2017–2019, April 2020 and March 2021), for the whole sample and by sex and ethnicity. Out of the 14,382 individuals interviewed in 2017–2019 and April 2020, 10,445 were interviewed again in March 2021. The mean GHQ-12 in April 2020 is 12.37 [95% CI: 12.22, 12.52] and in March 2021 is 12.36 [95% CI: 12.21, 12.51], above that of 2017–2019: 11.13 [95% CI: 10.99, 11.26]. We do not find evidence that the level of mental health goes back to pre-pandemic levels. In terms of inequalities, while the gender gap (mean difference between women and men) in mental health deterioration among White British is closing, there is no clear evidence that the ethnic gap (mean difference between ethnic minorities and White British) among men is changing.

Published in

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 22 , p.361 -372







© 2022 Climent Quintana-Domeque et al., published by De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Open Access

Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest