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Inequality in employment trajectories and their socio-economic consequences during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany


  • Moehring, Katja

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Weiland, Andreas
  • Reifenscheid, Maximiliane
  • Naumann, Elias
  • Wenz, Alexander

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Rettig, Tobias
  • Krieger, Ulrich
  • Fikel, Marina
  • Cornesse, Carina
  • Blom, Annelies G.


This paper evaluates the inequalities in employment trajectories during the first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Germany. We assess individual-level panel data collected weekly between 20 March and 25 June (N=2,297), which allows us to examine the risks of short-time work, furlough, and job loss, as well as changes between working on-site and from home. Using sequence analysis, we detect typical patterns of employment trajectories and analyse how these vary between socio-demographic groups. Finally, we relate the types of employment trajectories to changes in income, subjective job security (compared to values in January and February 2020), and COVID-19 infection risks. Our results show clear gradients in employment risks: low-wage workers were severely affected by furlough and job loss, while highly qualified employees were able to work from home. Furthermore, in contrast to previous crises, service sector and female employees were more affected by short-time work; however, its timing and duration differs compared to male workers in manufacturing. Income loss was pronounced among those who became unemployed and those continuously in short-term work, while everybody—including employees continuously working from home—experienced a significant reduction in subjective job security compared to employees whose employment hours or location have not changed. The infection risk was only increased for individuals who changed from furlough to working on-site.

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  • Moehring, Katja & Weiland, Andreas & Reifenscheid, Maximiliane & Naumann, Elias & Wenz, Alexander & Rettig, Tobias & Krieger, Ulrich & Fikel, Marina & Cornesse, Carina & Blom, Annelies G., 2021. "Inequality in employment trajectories and their socio-economic consequences during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany," SocArXiv m95df, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:m95df
    DOI: 10.31219/

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Ferragina, Emanuele & Pasqualini, Marta & Ricchi, Ettore & Zola, Andrew, 2021. "Who cares about health and the economy through the Covid-19 pandemic? Longitudinally tracking changes and heterogeneity in people’s perceptions of risks," SocArXiv rv7e3, Center for Open Science.
    3. Knize, Veronika & Tobler, Lina & Christoph, Bernhard & Fervers, Lukas & Jacob, Marita, 2021. "Workin’ moms ain’t doing so bad: Evidence on the gender gap in working hours at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic [Läuft bei Müttern: Zur Entwicklung der Geschlechterunterschiede in der Arbeitsze," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, issue Early Vie.
    4. Kang, Tarandeep S. & Goodwin, Robin, 2022. "Legal restrictions and mitigation strategies amongst a disabled population during COVID-19," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 305(C).
    5. Arntz, Melanie & Ben Yahmed, Sarra & Berlingieri, Francesco, 2022. "Working from home, hours worked and wages: Heterogeneity by gender and parenthood," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    6. Malou Grubben & Sara Wiertsema & Remco Hoekman & Gerbert Kraaykamp, 2022. "Is Working from Home during COVID-19 Associated with Increased Sports Participation? Contexts of Sports, Sports Location and Socioeconomic Inequality," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(16), pages 1-12, August.
    7. Felipe Barrera-Osorio & Adriana D. Kugler & Mikko I. Silliman, 2021. "Job Training Through Turmoil," NBER Working Papers 29565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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