“Pandemic depression: COVID-19 and the mental health of entrepreneurs” (2023). Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, 47(3): 788–830 (with Marco Caliendo, Alexander Kritikos and Johannes Seebauer)

Abstract: The disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on entrepreneurs when compared to employees is a global phenomenon. While the differential economic hardship is well documented, less is known about the effects of COVID-19 on their mental health. Using representative, longitudinal survey data from Germany, we show that financial losses appear to be an important driver of negative changes in mental health. Moreover, in particular female entrepreneurs experience a substantial deterioration in their mental health, while most male entrepreneurs are getting through the pandemic without significant changes. Investigating mechanisms behind this gendered impact of the pandemic, we find that female entrepreneurs who are directly affected by government-imposed restrictions on doing business, experience considerably larger increases in the frequency of anxiety and depressive symptoms, as do those who face additional child-care burden resulting from the closure of schools. Lastly, we observe that high levels of resilience help both gender to better cope with the crisis. Policy measures should account for this variation in mental health effects by supporting the affected entrepreneurs with more predictable policy instruments.

“COVID-19: a crisis of the female self-employed” (2021). Journal of Population Economics, 34: 1141–118. (with A. Kritikos and J. Seebauer)

Abstract: We investigate how the economic consequences of the pandemic and the government-mandated measures to contain its spread affect the self-employed — particularly women — in Germany. For our analysis, we use representative, real-time survey data in which respondents were asked about their situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate that among the self-employed, who generally face a higher likelihood of income losses due to COVID-19 than employees, women are about one-third more likely to experience income losses than their male counterparts. We do not find a comparable gender gap among employees. Our results further suggest that the gender gap among the self-employed is largely explained by the fact that women disproportionately work in industries that are more severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis of potential mechanisms reveals that women are significantly more likely to be impacted by government-imposed restrictions, e.g., the regulation of opening hours. We conclude that future policy measures intending to mitigate the consequences of such shocks should account for this considerable variation in economic hardship.

Interdisciplinary Journals

“Attitudes on voluntary and mandatory vaccination against COVID-19: evidence from Germany” (2021). PLoS ONE. (with C. Schmidt-Petri and C. Schroeder)

Abstract: Several vaccines against COVID-19 have now been developed and are already being rolled out around the world. The decision whether or not to get vaccinated has so far been left to the individual citizens. However, there are good reasons, both in theory as well as in practice, to believe that the willingness to get vaccinated might not be sufficiently high to achieve herd immunity. A policy of mandatory vaccination could ensure high levels of vaccination coverage, but its legitimacy is doubtful. We investigate the willingness to get vaccinated and the reasons for an acceptance (or rejection) of a policy of mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 in June and July 2020 in Germany based on a representative real time survey, a random sub-sample (SOEP-CoV) of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Our results show that about 70 percent of adults in Germany would voluntarily get vaccinated against the coronavirus if a vaccine without side effects was available. About half of residents of Germany are in favor, and half against, a policy of mandatory vaccination. The approval rate for mandatory vaccination is significantly higher among those who would get vaccinated voluntarily (around 60 percent) than among those who would not get vaccinated voluntarily (27 percent). The individual willingness to get vaccinated and acceptance of a policy of mandatory vaccination correlates systematically with socio-demographic and psychological characteristics of the respondents. We conclude that as far as people’s declared intentions are concerned, herd immunity could be reached without a policy of mandatory vaccination, but that such a policy might be found acceptable too, were it to become necessary.

“Social Norms and Preventive Behaviors in Japan and Germany During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (2022). Frontiers in Public Health, 10:842177. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.842177. (with C. Schmidt-Petri, T. Rieger and C. Schroeder)

Abstract: ccording to Gelfand et al. (1), COVID-19 infection and case mortality rates are closely connected to the strength of social norms: “Tighter” cultures that abide by strict social norms are more successful in combating the pandemic than “looser” cultures that are more permissive. However, countries with similar levels of cultural tightness exhibit big differences in mortality rates. We are investigating potential explanations for this fact. Using data from Germany and Japan—two “tight” countries with very different infection and mortality rates—we examined how differences in socio-demographic and other determinants explain differences in individual preventive attitudes and behaviors. Methods: We compared preventive attitudes and behaviors in 2020 based on real-time representative survey data and used logit regression models to study how individual attitudes and behaviors are shaped by four sets of covariates: individual socio-demographics, health, personality, and regional-level controls. Employing Blinder-Oaxaca regression techniques, we quantified the extent to which differences in averages of the covariates between Japan and Germany explain the differences in the observed preventive attitudes and behaviors.

Publications in collections

“Negative oekonomische und gesundheitliche Auswirkungen der COVID-19-Pandemie auf Selbstaendige” (2022). Jahrbuch Oekonomie und Gesellschaft, 33. (with A. Kritikos and J. Seebauer)