Subjective Well-being during COVID-19: The Influence of Social Distancing and Relative Deprivation
在新冠肺炎疫情的肆虐下，維持社交距離或封城等非藥物介入措施，對疫情控制發揮了成效，然而也影響了個人的主觀福祉；另方面，社交距離的政策亦限縮了經濟活動，使得部分民眾的生計和收入受到衝擊。受到疫情影響，民眾可能出現相對剝奪感，進而使得其主觀福祉受到影響。本研究以快樂感及生活滿意度分別做為主觀福祉的情感面與認知面之測量指標，擬探討遵守社交距離的規範是否會影響人們的主觀福祉，同時探索人們感知到的相對剝奪感是否會調節社交距離與主觀福祉之間的關係。資料來源為 2021 年 10 月以機率樣本所進行的網路調查，以母體資料加權後共 1,659 份有效問卷。研究結果顯示，在控制了受訪者個人背景變項、自評健康狀況、人際關係滿意度及工作狀況等變項後，個人維持社交距離的行為與快樂感及生活滿意度並無顯著關係；此外，相對剝奪感並無明顯的調節效果，但是其與快樂感及生活滿意度則有顯著的負向關係。本研究驗證了非經濟觀點之相對剝奪感對於個人主觀福祉的重要性。
Amid the sharp increase in COVID–19 infections, governments around the world have imposed different types of restraints on social activity to curb the spread of COVID–19. More specifically, maintaining social distancing as well as lockdowns have played an effective role in helping various countries to control the pandemic. However, these various types of restrictions on economic activities and social gatherings may have had a significant impact on people's lives, in particular the livelihoods of those who are in a service industry. Feelings of relative deprivation may also arise among those who have been seriously affected when compared with others, which in turn leads to a decrease of their subjective well-being. In other words, the measures of social or physical distancing may not only have a negative effect on the economy and employment but also influence people's perception of their well-being.
This study aims to examine the impact of social distancing measures on subjective well-being during the COVID–19 outbreak in Taiwan. In particular, we explore whether personal relative deprivation plays a moderating role in the relationship between social distancing and subjective well-being. Unlike most studies that have concerned individuals' economic disadvantages, this study employed a social psychological approach to measure personal relative deprivation. Moreover, previous studies indicated that the dimensions of subjective well-being include positive affect and cognitive evaluation. We thus adopt general happiness and overall life satisfaction (with 11-point scales) as the indicators of affective and cognitive dimensions of subjective well-being, respectively, to further understand their relationships with social distancing and relative deprivation.
An online survey was conducted between October 29 and November 12, 2021, with a probability-based sample aged 20 years or older. The research topics of the survey include subjective well-being, personal relative deprivation, willingness to vaccinate, social distancing, and other related attitudes and behaviors during the epidemic. After the application of weights using the population characteristics of age, gender, and region in Taiwan, a total of 1,659 completed responses were obtained. The sample averaged about 47 years old, with an average monthly income of $49,437. The majority of the respondents were males and highly educated. In addition, half of the study respondents were married (55.1%) and nearly half lived in northern Taiwan (49.6%). The averages of an individual’s self-rated health status, satisfaction with interpersonal relations, happiness, and life satisfaction were 6.43, 6.89, 6.38 and 6.4 respectively, all with a median of 7.
We employed linear regression analysis to examine the relationship between social distancing, relative deprivation, and subjective wellbeing. Demographic variables, including gender, age, income, marital status, educational level, place of residence, work status, and satisfaction with interpersonal relations, as well as self-rated health status, are included in the model. The results indicated that compliance with social distancing measures was not significantly associated with happiness or life satisfaction. More specifically, individuals are not necessarily unhappy when they have to comply with social distancing measures, nor is their life satisfaction affected. People may have already gotten used to the measures of social distancing by the time the survey was conducted, so their subjective well-being was not influenced. In addition, personal relative deprivation did not have a moderation effect in the relationship between social distancing and subjective wellbeing. Rather, it had a significantly negative relationship with happiness and life satisfaction. It is possible that some people feel unfairly treated when compared to others during the pandemic, which reduces their happiness and life satisfaction. This study contributes to the literature on well-being by demonstrating the importance of relative deprivation from a non-economic perspective, in particular during the COVID–19 pandemic.