Coronavirus research: Impact on society and the economy
The ARL – Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association has set up an inter- and transdisciplinary ‘Pandemic and Spatial Development’ ad-hoc working group that pools expertise in the fields of land-use planning, epidemiology/public health, community health, hygiene and environmental medicine, medical geography and critical infrastructure, including the healthcare system and its corporate bodies (such as health insurance companies). The aim, first of all, is to draw up a position paper that draws on spatially relevant findings concerning the impacts and how they are being managed, as well as new questions for research and practice. Issues covered include the availability/accessibility of spatially restricted datasets concerning health and supply infrastructure, risk analysis of human, environmental and economic protection targets, including environmental and participative justice, differentiated according to (planning) levels/responsibilities, as well as medium-term action requirements in various policy areas.
The DIPF sees school education as a key topic for educational research and information. The institute therefore wants to help schools so that they can handle the current challenging situation better. The German Education Server is publishing a number of dossiers during the coronavirus pandemic with information for school leaders, teachers, parents and pupils. One example of an ongoing research project is the PACO survey, which is investigating how families with schoolchildren are adapting to school closures and social distancing. Another ongoing project has developed the digital Ferdi holiday provision for primary school pupils who have fallen behind in reading, writing or arithmetic. Ferdi was offered to the conference of ministers of education and has been taken up by the state of Hesse. The National Report on Education, which is being drawn up under the auspices of the DIPF, covers problems that are arising in the various stages of education as a result of the pandemic.
In March 2020, the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI), a member of the Leibniz Association, expanded its research in the field of digital educational media to monitor how digital media are being used during the school closures/COVID-19 and to support schools and families with home schooling. The LernDiWa project and the ‘Leibniz Science Campus – Postdigital Participation – Braunschweig’ are conducting ethnographic research to monitor the transformation in schools during the pandemic. The ‘Discourse of EdTech’ project is analysing discourse about the virus, school and digital media.
The DIE is addressing the topic of coronavirus in a number of different ways:
The DIE Forum on continuing education (in collaboration with the dialog digitalisierung series of events (31 November 2020) will discuss the topic of digitalisation in adult education. Experiences from the coronavirus crisis are covered in a number of different settings, including in a panel discussion on “Continuing education under COVID-19 – What next after the spontaneous digitalisation?”.
The German National Education Report (publication date June 2020, status quo before the pandemic) highlights emerging key developments, for example: how are working and employment conditions and the use of digital media changing in continuing education?
An online study on media use during the coronavirus crisis is investigating which media are currently being used to look up information about coronavirus and how reliable they are perceived to be. One of the focus areas is podcasts.
wb-web, the portal for adult education teachers, regularly publishes relevant articles, e.g. in the areas of digitalisation and e-learning. In the learning zone there is a pathway on “Teaching and learning with digital media”.
The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) is investigating the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on various sectors of the economy and society. DIW aktuell updates covering topics relating to the coronavirus pandemic are currently appearing several times a week. Topics covered so far include key occupations, the impacts of school closures, the different effects on the employment of men and women, and analyses of measures in the fields of economic, monetary, climate, housing market and fiscal policy. In addition, through the Joint Economic Forecast, DIW Berlin is attempting to predict the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for Germany, in part through comparisons with previous economic crises.
With its expertise in global developments and multilateralism and its profound knowledge of the regions of the Global South, the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) is analysing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in order to contribute to political solutions. The governments of Europe are responding to the crisis in different ways. The measures implemented vary considerably and are being weighed up against the economic consequences of the crisis and impacts on citizens’ freedoms. Countries in the Global South are also reacting in different ways. Large parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are seriously affected by the virus. The crisis may necessitate a fundamental rethink of globalisation. What effect does it have on democracy versus authoritarianism? And on human rights and security, on inequality within and between societies? How will it affect growth and development? The coronavirus pandemic raises a large number of social, political and economic questions that fall within GIGA’s research remit.
The IWH Bankruptcy Update published by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) provides robust figures for bankruptcies of private and public limited companies across Germany considerably faster than the official statistics. The reliable leading indicator enables observers to make a broad assessment of the situation, especially in view of the coronavirus crisis. The IWH analyses bankruptcy notices from the German courts and combines this data with balance sheet information for the companies concerned. Thanks to the longstanding expertise concentrated in the IWH Bankruptcy Unit, the institute has become one of the leading German institutions in this field. The IWH Bankruptcy Update appears at the start of each month.
The Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo) has launched a diary study on coronavirus-related home working. As part of the diary study, the team is investigating adaptation processes among employees who are not used to working from home.
The ifo Institute for Economic Research is calculating the economic costs of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdown measures. It is also developing lockdown exit strategies and economic measures to stabilise the economy again quickly and effectively. The monthly ifo economic survey provides a unique data basis for this, with up-to-date data on the mood in the German economy and other important indicators concerning Germany’s economic developments. In addition, researchers at all ifo centres are analysing numerous other aspects of the coronavirus crisis, such as global value chains and supply bottlenecks, public finances, effects on schoolchildren’s performance, particularly in relation to socioeconomic differences, a possible increase in domestic violence, the potential of working from home to keep business activities going, effects on individual sectors, implications for the climate and emission levels, and many more aspects.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) is investigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and growth. Its activities include the publication of quarterly economic forecasts (Kiel Economic Outlook) for the global economy, the eurozone and the German economy. In addition, it regularly publishes Policy Briefs with brief analyses of the global economic consequences of the pandemic.
The Coronavirus Data Monitor shows continually updated indicators from which it is possible to draw conclusions about economic activity in Germany and Europe and the spread of the pandemic. This means it provides indications of how companies and people are responding to the far-reaching constraints imposed by governments, and to any easing of restrictions.
Department IV (Regimes of the Social Sphere) of the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) conducts research on health systems during emergencies, in particular in situations of war, dictatorship and economic crises, and on the handling of epidemic infectious diseases in the 20th century and the consequences of socio-political cost-cutting and reform processes for the performance of health systems.
The Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) is conducting coronavirus surveys, including as part of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). With the aim of investigating long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic over the course of a lifetime, all adults were invited to take part in an online survey in May this year and will also be asked respond to the next surveys about the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The focus is on everyday learning practices during the coronavirus pandemic and changes in the use of learning materials and media for school and personal and professional training, as well as participation in the job market and education. By linking the survey to past and future surveys and competence test data from the representative German studies, NEPS offers the necessary longitudinal information to investigate the long-term impacts of the current situation on various aspects, including the digitalisation of learning, the development of social educational inequality and consequences for a wide range of educational outcomes.
The Leibniz Institute for Financial Research (SAFE) has worked with an international team of finance experts to draw up a proposal to support small and medium-sized businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus lockdown measures. The aim is for affected businesses to receive equity-like payments from a European Pandemic Equity Fund instead of more loans, which would exacerbate the debt problems. Through the Household Crisis Barometer, researchers at SAFE and Goethe University Frankfurt are working with Nielsen in Frankfurt to investigate changes in consumer and savings behaviour in the population as a result of the coronavirus crisis. SAFE is also one of the founding institutes of the Frankfurt Interdisciplinary Debate, alongside the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (HSFK/PRIF). The aim of the interdisciplinary blog is to involve voices from different disciplines in the coronavirus debate.
The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) is working with partners in a research consortium to conduct research into the reconfiguration of public communication in times of far-reaching mediatisation: pioneer journalism, audience relations and public connection. The coronavirus crisis is playing a unique role in reconfiguring public communication, so there are plans for surveys on the specifics of media usage, journalism and journalism/audience relations during the coronavirus crisis.
As part of the ‘Media and Scientific Communication’ project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, HBI researchers were given a chance to spend time conducting research at the Science Media Center Germany, a key player in scientific journalism in Germany, where they gained insights into how scientific knowledge is selected, assessed and distributed to the media in times of uncertainty, ambiguity and high pressure to perform.
The HBI is also involved in the annual Reuters Institute Digital News Survey. In 2020 the survey collected additional data about news consumption under coronavirus conditions.
The Leibniz Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID) is involved in the COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring project (COSMO) alongside the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) and the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research (LIR). COSMO analyses trends to do with coronavirus risk perception and knowledge in Germany: how do people perceive the coronavirus risk, what protective measures are they aware of and are they practising, and what sources do they use to obtain information? The research is being carried out by an international consortium led by Prof. Cornelia Betsch at the University of Erfurt.
The Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) is conducting intensive research into crises, including as part of the Leibniz Research Alliance on Crises in a Globalised World and in projects with third-party funding, such as the project on Coping with Crises in a Resilient Manner (RESKIU) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In this context, it carried out a study on the E. coli (EHEC) epidemic in 2011.
Based on this expertise, the IRS is also commenting on the coronavirus crisis, for example through the IRS audio podcast society@space, through the video podcast of the Leibniz Research Alliance on Crises in a Globalised World and through the blog run by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (HSFK). Two academic papers on the coronavirus crisis have been accepted for publication. The IRS deals with the role of scientific advice in crises, crises as opportunities to bring about fundamental change, critical infrastructure, migration and the spatial aspects of crises. Another focus is on changes in digital practices in rural areas in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research (LIR) is currently conducting several studies and research projects on COVID-19. The COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring project (COSMO) is analysing psychological stress, as well as risk perception and knowledge of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Germany. Within the DynaMORE project, an EU project led by the LIR, it is investigating the psychological stress in the general population (everyone can take part online or via an app) and in health professions.
In the LORA COVID Study, 500 of 1,200 test subjects from the Longitudinal Resilience Assessment (LORA) of Collaborative Research Centre 1193, which has been running for about two years, are asked each week about stress, resilience and psychological strain during the coronavirus crisis. The LIR also offers an online training course for strengthening resilience called ‘Auf Kurs Bleiben – Kompakt’. In addition, the institute provides support and recommendations for dealing with the psychological consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Leibniz Institute for the German Language (IDS) is currently focusing on the area of clear language in official communications and has been running various projects with government partners since 2019. During the coronavirus crisis, it has become clear that measures to ensure clear communications in health authorities and health ministries are not yet receiving special attention. The IDS is striving to introduce established methods for clear official communications in the health sector.
The Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) is investigating expected restrictions on agricultural exports as a result of border closures due to COVID-19, the impacts of the pandemic prevention measures on the dynamics and resilience of food supply chains, and the impacts of the economic knock-on effects of the coronavirus crisis on international agricultural trade relations and food supply in selected countries with a low per-capita income. In addition, the IAMO is studying adaptations to food consumption in China and Germany as a result of the coronavirus crisis (consumer preferences and diet-related health as a result of the pandemic prevention measures).
In the field of business ethics, the IAMO is considering how social distancing in the event of pandemics can be organised more efficiently and how negative (socio-psychological and economic) impacts of social distancing can be reduced. The IAMO also studies the resilience of agricultural businesses in times of crisis.
The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) researches how urban areas and regions need to transform in order to protect individual and collective health in the long term against global environmental risks and their negative impacts. This covers projects on initiating and managing participatory adaptation and transformation processes (e.g. City of the Future, HeatResilientCity and TransVer) and the development and assessment of structural planning concepts (including density, landscape and the circular economy) and a broad spectrum of individual measures. In the context of the pandemic, key factors are the accessibility and quality of ecological infrastructure and nature-based solutions (e.g. BIDELIN), air quality (e.g. SAUBER), the local/regional supply of resources (e.g. KartAL IV) and food (e.g. Edible Cities), and the synergies between them. The institute is also actively involved in the Leibniz Research Alliance on Crises in a Globalised World.
The international research project on ‘Life with Corona’ is investigating the economic, social, political and health aspects of life during the coronavirus pandemic for people all over the world. The questionnaire is available in over 25 languages. The project is designed to give a better understanding of how people are experiencing this unusual situation and how they are dealing with the pandemic and the associated measures. The online survey is being conducted by an international team of researchers and volunteers led by the IGZ in association with the International Security and Development Center (ISDC) in Berlin, the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in Helsinki and the University of Konstanz.
The Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM) is investigating the role and use of media in the various contexts that are proving to be particularly challenging during the pandemic. For instance, it is researching the use of media for stress management during the pandemic and, in particular, the extent to which communication from virologists such as Christian Drosten (Charité), Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit (BNITM) and others is influencing knowledge and preventive behaviour on social media and traditional media channels. It is also investigating the effect of conspiracy theories in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic on individual implementation of measures and asks what communication strategies can be used successfully to counter the effects of conspiracy theories. In addition, the IWM portal eteaching.org has designed a short online course on online teaching (‘Quickstarter Online-Lehre’) for university and college lecturers who have had to restructure their classes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Leibniz Research Alliance on Crises in a Globalised World, which is coordinated by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (HSFK/PRIF), has set up a database where it collates position statements, publications, media articles and other content relating to the coronavirus pandemic from the member institutes of the research alliance. In addition, it runs video Crisis Calls with crisis researchers from a wide range of disciplines about the impacts and consequences of the coronavirus crisis for society. The HSFK also publishes a blog series on peace policy challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, HSFK researchers are coordinating an online CryptPad to document the coronavirus crisis and social transformation (‘Corona-Monitor. Gesellschaftliche Transformation in Zeiten von Corona’).
The RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research is also conducting research on COVID-19. The RWI is forecasting hospital capacity utilisation and analysing excess mortality in times of pandemics and specifically during SARS-Cov-2. In addition, the RWI is studying the impacts of government interventions in various European countries and around the world on the spread of the virus and on other areas, such as climate protection. It is also studying the impacts of the pandemic in developing countries, especially on the local economy. In addition, it is exploring the impacts of the pandemic and the responses to it (lockdown, social distancing, etc.) on domestic violence against women and children in Germany.
Since 1 April, researchers on the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and the University of Bielefeld have been conducting an additional telephone survey of over 12,000 people to investigate the socio-economic factors and consequences of the spread of coronavirus. A second survey will take place at the beginning of 2021 once the infection rate is clearly in decline. The study is embedded in the SOEP’s longitudinal household study, which has been running since 1984, which means that comprehensive information about those taking part in the survey now is already available from previous years. These individuals will also be part of the regular SOEP surveys in the coming years. This will enable researchers to investigate both the scale of the changes and the long-term consequences of the coronavirus crisis. The SOEP-CoV survey is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The project team comprises researchers from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Charité Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG) and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). The results are published regularly on the project website, which also contains information about the methodology used. The data will be made available at the end of 2021.
The WZB Berlin Social Science Center has launched a survey on how the coronavirus pandemic is changing everyday life. The WZB regularly provides considerations and analyses from social research on the topic of coronavirus and its impacts via a knowledge-sharing tool. In addition, the WZB runs a weekly online colloquium on sociological perspectives of the coronavirus crisis, most recently with over 160 participants.
Further WZB surveys are taking place on ‘Sociological Perspectives on the Corona Crisis: The Role of Transnational Mobility, Social Networks and Ethnic Diversity’, on correlations between social and political characteristics of societies and the spread of the pandemic, and on differences between authoritarian/technocratic and democratic/participatory forms of governance in European and East Asian crisis policies.
The ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs (BMWi) to carry out a study of small and medium-sized businesses during the coronavirus crisis in order to find out, among other things, to what extent the government’s crisis funding is reaching the intended target groups. In a project on post-coronavirus stabilisation of the eurozone, the ZEW is investigating the effects of the bond purchase programmes on the yields of eurozone countries. In addition, it is carrying out special surveys on COVID-19 within the IAB/ZEW Start-Up Panel and in the monthly ZEW Financial Market Survey and the China Economic Panel. As part of Collaborative Research Centre 884, the ZEW is involved in a survey of the German Internet Panel on the subject of coronavirus behaviour. Other research projects cover subjects like social capital and COVID-19 and the significance of COVID-19 for the intergenerational transmission of inequality. The ZEW has set up a special website on the coronavirus crisis which is updated daily and documents the latest activities of the ZEW and its researchers in relation to the impacts of the coronavirus crisis.