Lock-downs, Loneliness and Life Satisfaction
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 lock-downs constrain married people to spend time solely with their spouses, simulations show that their happiness may have been increased compared to before the lock-downs; but sufficiently large losses of work time and income reverse this inference. Simulations demonstrate clearly that, assuming lock-downs impose solitude on singles, their happiness was reduced, reductions that are made more severe by income and work losses.
I thank the University of Minnesota Population Center IPUMS for the ATUS-X extracts and Jeff Biddle, George Borjas, Katie Genadek and Andrew Oswald for helpful comments. No funding was received for this research. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.