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Occupational Exposure to Contagion and the Spread of COVID-19 in Europe

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  • Lewandowski, Piotr

    (Institute for Structural Research (IBS))

Abstract

Social contacts are a key transmission channel of infectious diseases spread by the respiratory or close-contact route, such as COVID-19. There is no evidence, however, on the question of whether the nature and the organisation of work affect the spread of COVID-19 in different countries. I have developed a methodology to measure country-specific levels of occupational exposure to contagion driven by social contacts. I combined six indicators based on Occupation Information Network (O*NET) and the European Working Condition Survey (EWCS) data. I then applied them to 26 European countries, and found substantial cross-country differences in levels of exposure to contagion in comparable occupations. The resulting country-level measures of levels of exposure to contagion (excluding health professions) predict the growth in COVID-19 cases, and the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the early stage of pandemic (up to four weeks after the 100th case). The relationship between levels of occupational exposure to contagion and the spread of COVID-19 is particularly strong for workers aged 45-64. I found that 20-25% of the cross-country variance in numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths can be attributed to cross-country differences in levels of occupational exposure to contagion in European countries. My findings are robust to controlling for the stringency of containment policies, such as lockdowns and school closures. They are also driven by country-specific patterns of social contacts at work, rather than by occupational structures. Thus, I conclude that measuring workplace interactions may help to predict the next waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Lewandowski, Piotr, 2020. "Occupational Exposure to Contagion and the Spread of COVID-19 in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 13227, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13227
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    Cited by:

    1. Brandily, Paul & Brébion, Clément & Briole, Simon & Khoury, Laura, 2020. "A Poorly Understood Disease? The Unequal Distribution of Excess Mortality Due to COVID-19 Across French Municipalities," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 15/2020, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    2. Louis‐Philippe Beland & Abel Brodeur & Derek Mikola & Taylor Wright, 2022. "The short‐term economic consequences of COVID‐19: Occupation tasks and mental health in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(S1), pages 214-247, February.
    3. Basso, Gaetano & Boeri, Tito & Caiumi, Alessandro & Paccagnella, Marco, 2020. "The New Hazardous Jobs and Worker Reallocation," IZA Discussion Papers 13532, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Bonin, Holger & Eichhorst, Werner & Kaczynska, Jennifer & Kümmerling, Angelika & Rinne, Ulf & Scholten, Annika & Steffes, Susanne, 2020. "Verbreitung und Auswirkungen von mobiler Arbeit und Homeoffice," IZA Research Reports 99, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Zuzanna Kowalik & Piotr Lewandowski, 2021. "The gender gap in aversion to COVID-19 exposure: Evidence from professional tennis," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(3), pages 1-10, March.
    6. Gabriele Ciminelli & Sílvia Garcia‐Mandicó, 2022. "When and how do business shutdowns work? Evidence from Italy's first COVID‐19 wave," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(9), pages 1823-1843, September.
    7. Brandily, Paul & Brébion, Clément & Briole, Simon & Khoury, Laura, 2021. "A poorly understood disease? The impact of COVID-19 on the income gradient in mortality over the course of the pandemic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    8. Crowley, Frank & Doran, Justin & Ryan, Geraldine, 2020. "The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on workers: Who is most exposed?," SRERC Working Paper Series SRERCWP2020-3, University College Cork (UCC), Spatial and Regional Economic Research Centre (SRERC).
    9. Matthew A. Cole & Ceren Ozgen & Eric Strobl, 2020. "Air Pollution Exposure and Covid-19 in Dutch Municipalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(4), pages 581-610, August.
    10. Jill Furzer & Boriana Miloucheva, 2020. "The Long Arm of the Clean Air Act: Pollution Abatement and COVID-19 Racial Disparities," Working Papers tecipa-668, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    11. Louis-Philippe Beland & Oluwatobi Fakorede & Derek Mikola, 2020. "Short-Term Effect of COVID-19 on Self-Employed Workers in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 46(S1), pages 66-81, July.
    12. Piotr Lewandowski & Katarzyna Lipowska & Iga Magda, 2021. "The Gender Dimension of Occupational Exposure to Contagion in Europe," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1-2), pages 48-65, April.
    13. Crowley, Frank & Daly, Hannah & Doran, Justin & Ryan, Geraldine & Caulfield, Brian, 2021. "The impact of labour market disruptions and transport choice on the environment during COVID-19," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 185-195.
    14. Beland, Louis-Philippe & Brodeur, Abel & Haddad, Joanne & Mikola, Derek, 2020. "Covid-19, Family Stress and Domestic Violence: Remote Work, Isolation and Bargaining Power," GLO Discussion Paper Series 571, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    15. Sara Flisi & Giulia Santangelo, 2022. "Occupations in the European Labour Market During the COVID-19 Pandemic," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 57(2), pages 120-126, March.
    16. Louis-Philippe Béladn & Abel Brodeur & Joanne Haddad & Derek Mikola, 2021. "Determinants of Family Stress and Domestic Violence: Lessons from the COVID-19 Outbreak," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 47(3), pages 439-459, September.
    17. Matthew A Cole & Ceren Ozgen & Eric Strobl, 2020. "Air Pollution Exposure and Covid-19," Discussion Papers 20-13, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    18. Krumel, Thomas & Goodrich, Corey, 2021. "COVID-19 Working Paper: Meatpacking Working Conditions and the Spread of COVID-19," USDA Miscellaneous 315417, United States Department of Agriculture.
    19. Louis-Philippe Beland & Abel Brodeur & Derek Mikola & Taylor Wright, 2020. "COVID-19, Occupation Tasks and Mental Health in Canada," Carleton Economic Papers 20-07, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 30 Jun 2020.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; contagion; exposure to disease; occupations; organisation of work;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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