Children’s well-being and intra-household family relationships during the first COVID-19 lockdown in France
Objective: This article explores the consequences of the first COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020 in France on intra-family relationships and 9-year-old children's socio-emotional well-being.
Background: On 17th March 2020, France began a strict lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, with school closures and limited outings permitted until early June. All family routines and work-life arrangements were impacted. A major concern relates to how these measures impacted family and child well-being.
Method: We use data from the Elfe Sapris survey, administered during the first lockdown to about 5,000 families participating to the Etude longitudinale française depuis l'enfance (Elfe), a nationally representative birth cohort of children born in 2011. We analysed correlations between parents' socioeconomic and living conditions on four relational indicators: the experience of lockdown, the quality of relationships between parents and children, and between siblings, and an indicator of children’s socio-emotional well-being, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
Results: The impact of the lockdown on family well-being was conditional on socio-economic factors and their changes over the period. Deterioration of households' financial situation and having to work outside the home during lockdown was negatively correlated with family relationships and children’s socio-emotional well-being.
Conclusion: Overall, our results suggest that while France's first lockdown was a relatively positive period for many households with a primary-school-aged child, we highlight that restrictions exacerbated existing difficulties for disadvantaged families.
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