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SHARE-COVID 19 Project

The COVID-19 pandemic and the epidemic control measures have affected the well-being of European citizens in terms of economics, social relationships, and health: Europe has experienced the largest recession since WWII, social contacts were interrupted, and people avoided seeking medical treatment in fear of infection. The overall aim of the SHARE-COVID19 project is to understand these non-intended consequences of the epidemic control measures on the individual level in order to devise improved health, economic and social policies at both EU and national level. Our results show that

  • respondents 70+, with medium or lower education, and those who were hospitalised have had a high risk of post-COVID-19 conditions;
  • remote medical care can play an important role in maintaining healthcare access for older adults;
  • social distancing was associated with a higher probability of sleeping problems;
  • short-time employment aid was successful in the short run but elevated the unemployment risk in the longer run;
  • postponed or denied healthcare due to pandemic mostly affected lower income individuals with worse health;
  • excess mortality in nursing homes is associated with how nursing homes are designed and organised.

The project has the large number of 17 participants in 12 countries:

The project is organised in ten work packages.

WP1 will provide internal communication, especially frequent meetings to foster this interaction and to ensure contract compliance (e.g., timely delivery, adherence to GDPR). Central coordination will be strict in managing operations. We will thereby use the KPIs developed by SHARE-ERIC.

The analytical WPs 2-8 will work closely together. While they are structured by the three broad areas public health, economics and social implications, scientists of all three disciplines work in each of these three areas, assuring multidisciplinary cooperation. The analytical work will be based on the SHARE base panel and the two SHARE Corona Surveys.

The data centre (WP9) will coordinate the second round of the SHARE Corona Survey, collect contextual data (e.g., geocoded epidemiological and economic data), and execute the data dissemination and exploitation plan. WP9 will also provide shared routines facilitating joint work with these data. WP9 therefore involves all participants.

The content work packages WP2-WP8 feed into the ultimate aim of this project, namely dissemination, communication and policy impact (WP10). All project scientists participate in WP10 since this is the key output of this project. WP10 is responsible for executing the dissemination and communication plan addressing the end-users of our results (policy makers and social organisations).

The key deliverables are working papers of the analytical WPs 2-8 in four stages:

  • Descriptive analyses based on the first round of the SHARE Corona Survey
  • Refined analyses of the first round of the SHARE Corona Survey
  • Refined analyses of both rounds of the SHARE Corona Survey plus Wave 9 of SHARE
  • Policy recommendations

The deliverables associated with each analytical WP 2-8 and each stage can be downloaded here:

MEA’s focus within the SHARE-COVID19 project is on labor market effects. Many people were affected by the reduction in working hours, also known as short-time work (STW). To minimize the negative effects on their incomes, many governments compensated earnings losses by short-time employment aid schemes (STEA). Examples are the wage subsidies in the Netherlands or “Kurzarbeitergeld” in Germany. Although the countries differ widely in coverage and generosity, STEA guaranteed a minimum income regardless of hours worked. MEA studies to which extent the working population was actually helped by STEA. A comparative view of SHARE countries is taken and the differences in policy outcomes are analyzed cross-nationally. The research objectives encompass the following questions:

  • Who was affected by shorter working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic? Specifically, were these vulnerable people, e.g., due to a previous history of unemployment history or due to low incomes?
  • Did they receive support? Specifically, did they receive short-time employment aid from their governments? Did this support help them to maintain their living standards?

While most economists agree STEA is helpful in the short run, some warn that it may have a negative impact in the longer run. The problem arises because STEA could prohibit the natural fluctuation of jobs whereby companies which are no longer profitable, regardless of the economic downturn, terminate jobs. Therefore, subsidizing workers at such companies (in the extreme: “zombie companies”) in effect temporarily prolongs employment, but once STEA ends, the company will eventually have to release employees. Taking this into consideration, a second set of questions evaluates the potential negative side effects of STEA:

  • Do we observe negative side effects of STEA? Specifically, do we observe higher unemployment in the longer run among people who received STEA?
  • If we observe such negative long run outcomes, can we attribute them to STEA or are they due to the fact that jobs and workers eligible for STEA may have been a less productive selection in the first place?