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Be kind: domestic violence and mental health during a strict Covid-19 lockdown

The proposed study is going to exploit timing of a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown to estimate the impacts of social distancing on domestic violence incidents and mental health referrals using administrative data in New Zealand. To estimate local average treatment effects, our analysis will utilize the timing of the lockdown, which officially began at midnight March 26, 2020. Two outcomes are the focus: the number of domestic violence investigations and the number of referrals for mental health services. Because the effects of lockdown may take time to manifest and can also be driven by anticipatory effects, we would test the effects of the lockdown by considering leads as well as lags of the outcomes of interests (e.g. one-two week(s) prior and post-lockdown date). Integrating data from the NZ Police offender and victim record, the empirical analysis would allow us to explore heterogeneity in the causal effects by looking at disaggregated population based on prior experiences of violent crimes and victimization. The richness of administrative data would further allow us to test whether a higher incidence of domestic violence as a result of the lockdown prompts an increase in mental health referrals. Our results inform policymakers on the potential negative externalities of social distancing on public health.

Lead investigator:

Kabir Dasgupta


NZ Work Research Institute

Primary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Secondary topic:

Crime & policing

Region of data collection:

Asia and Oceania

Country of data collection

New Zealand

Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Publicly available

Unit of real-time data collection