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The long shadow of an infection: COVID-19 and performance at work


  • Fischer, Kai
  • Reade, J. James
  • Schmal, W. Benedikt


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic shock waves across the globe. Much research addresses direct health implications of an infection, but to date little is known about how this shapes lasting economic effects. This paper estimates the workplace productivity effects of COVID-19 by studying performance of soccer players after an infection. We construct a dataset that encompasses all traceable infections in the elite leagues of Germany and Italy. Relying on a staggered difference-in-differences design, we identify negative short- and longer-run performance effects. Relative to their preinfection outcomes, infected players' performance temporarily drops by more than 6%. Over half a year later, it is still around 5% lower. The negative effects appear to have notable spillovers on team performance. We argue that our results could have important implications for labor markets and public health in general. Countries and firms with more infections might face economic disadvantages that exceed the temporary pandemic shock due to potentially long-lasting reductions in productivity.

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  • Fischer, Kai & Reade, J. James & Schmal, W. Benedikt, 2021. "The long shadow of an infection: COVID-19 and performance at work," DICE Discussion Papers 368, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:dicedp:368

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    1. Dasom I. Ham, 2022. "Long-Haulers and Labor Market Outcomes," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 060, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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    More about this item


    Labor Performance; Economic Costs of COVID-19; Public Health;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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