Pandemic exposure and long‐run psychological well‐being

Chao MA, Yiwei LI, Wenxin JIANG, Xing ZHANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Using individuals' life history information from a large-scale national survey (N = 13,044), we causally evaluate how exposure to SARS-Cov-1, the first global pandemic in the 21st century, affects long-term psychological well-being. We find that exposure to local pandemic risk, that is, local deaths due to the pandemic, significantly reduced people's mental health 12 years later. Consistent with the belief-based account of depression, exposure to pandemic risk resulted in more pessimistic beliefs about the future and survival probability. People reduced savings and increased hedonic consumption, suggesting a “carpe diem” effect of the pandemic exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Western Economic Association International.


  • belief formation
  • carpe diem
  • pandemic
  • psychological well-being
  • risk perception


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