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Margrét Einarsdóttir, Kolbeinn Hólmar Stefánsson and Kristín Heba Gísladóttir

ABSTRACT: Foreign research results indicate that socio-economic inequalities in mental health have increased during the COVID-19 epidemic. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between depressive symptoms and financial hardship and other social and economic inequality during the time of the corona virus in Icelandic workers who belong to member associations within ASÍ and BSRB. Methods: The study is a population study based on a questionnaire on the status of wage earners in Iceland and was submitted at the end of 2020. A total of 8461 answered the study, or 7.0% of the population. The data were weighted to best reflect the population. Depressive symptoms were self-assessed using the PHQ-9 scale. Two types of financial hardship were asked, material deprivation and making ends meet. Results are based on univariate and multivariate binary analyses. Results show that the likelihood of depression increases as the socio-economic status is worse. When controlling for other socio-economic risk factors and physical health, material deprivation has the greatest weight in risk, but the explanatory power of making ends meet is lower than both physical health and age. Conclusion: There is a significant social and economic inequality in the depression symptoms of workers in the era of COVID-19. The government's actions to ensure people's survival and standard of living during the COVID crisis went too far. The government must always, regardless of the economic situation, guarantee everyone a living that is sufficient for the minimum consumption standards.

KEY WORDS: Mental health – financial hardship – COVID-19

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