Category / Corona Pandemic / Health / Society

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  • Frau steht mit dem Rücken zur Kamera am Strand und hält einen Kaffee in der Hand

    Researching Loneliness

    Prior to the pandemic, 14% of people living in Germany felt lonely at least every once in a while. This figure had risen to 42% in 2021. Before Covid, loneliness mainly affected people over the age of 75 years, women, people with a low income and low educational status, people with a migration background, and unemployed people. Today, loneliness is more widespread, affecting more and more young people and couples with children, among others. Social differences, such as income, play less of a role in the experience of loneliness than before.

    “Living in Germany” provides the data for a broad initiative of the German government, the “Strategy against Loneliness.” The aim is to increase knowledge about loneliness, thus finding pathways to provide prevention and relief. Loneliness is associated with high health risks: If it persists over a longer period of time, it promotes both mental and physical illnesses. It leads to less life satisfaction and a lower general sense of well-being. People suffering from loneliness are more likely to have depression and sleep problems, alongside an increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, or heart attacks.

    Further information

    Kompetenznetzwerk Einsamkeit: Epidemiologie von Einsamkeit in Deutschland (pdf)

    Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend: Wissen zu Einsamkeit vertiefen

    National Geographic: Die Vermessung der deutschen Einsamkeit

    All results in the overview

    Image by Pexels from Pixabay

  • Drei Frauen stehen gemeinsam und lachen.

    Upward Trend in Mental Health

    Between 2002 and 2020, the data show a general upward trend in mental health in Germany, in line with economic growth. Mental health declined significantly during the financial crisis of 2009 and the first year of COVID. When people fear job loss or economic crisis, their mental health clearly suffers.

    Social inequalities also play a major role: women’s mental health was consistently worse than men’s. University graduates had better mental health than people without a university degree, and non-migrants had slightly better mental health than migrants.

    „Politicians need to take this more fully into account in their decisions. The costs of poor mental health are enormous and widely underestimated,” says Dr. Daniel Graeber, author of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

    Further information

    DIW Berlin (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung): Soziale Ungleichheiten spiegeln sich in der psychischen Gesundheit

    DIE ZEIT: „Menschen überschätzen, wie glücklich Reichtum macht“ (Interview with Daniel Graeber), for subscribers

    All results in the overview

    Foto by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 from Unsplash

  • Menschen mit verschiedenen Hautfarben tragen eine Maske

    Migration and Covid-19

    By the end of October 2021, more than four million people in Germany had been infected with Corona. In order to be able to investigate possible differences in infections and vaccinations between people with and without migration experience, the antibody study “Corona Monitoring bundesweit” (RKI-SOEP-2) was conducted. All participants of the survey “Living in Germany” 2021 were invited to participate in the antibody study.

    At the time of the survey in October 2021, most of the people in Germany had already come into contact with the spike protein of the Corona virus at least twice through vaccinations and/or infections, i.e. were already immunized. The proportion of those who had already come into contact with the virus at least twice was higher among persons without migration experience than among persons with migration experience (90 versus 82 percent). This difference is due to the higher vaccination rate among persons without migration experience. In addition, persons with migration experience had already contracted Corona twice as often as persons without migration experience (8 versus 4 percent).

    In their research report, the two researchers Dr. Manuel Siegert (BAMF-FZ) and Laura Goßner (IAB) show that the difference in the frequency of infection is not due to the migration experience per se, but to the different life circumstances, such as the residential, professional and family situation. For this reason, the researchers recommend that the respective living conditions of the group of people to be protected be taken into account when adopting protective measures and health campaigns.

    The RKI-SOEP-2 study was conducted jointly by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), the Research Center of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF-FZ) and the Institute for Employment Research (IAB).

    Further information

    Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF): Studie zum Infektionsrisiko für COVID-19-Erkrankungen

    All results in the overview

  • Older woman sitting at the radiator checking a bill

    Rising energy prices

    The German government has invested almost 24 billion euros in relief measures to counter rapidly rising energy prices due to the war in Ukraine. The money is going toward increased social welfare benefits, reduced gas taxes, and a heavily discounted monthly public transport pass. But are these measures actually offsetting the increased costs?

    As data from the study “Living in Germany” show, the increase in energy prices is placing the most severe burden on poorer households. For the poorest 10 percent of the population, the costs of electricity, heat, and fuel will eat up 6.7 percent of net income in the next 12 to 18 months. These households will receive 3.7 percent of that back in the form of government relief, leaving them with an energy burden of 3 percentage points. leaving them with an energy burden of 3 percentage points.

    For the richest 10 percent of households in Germany, energy costs will only consume an additional 2 percent of net income. They will receive 0.7 percent of that back in government relief, leaving them with an energy burden of just 1.3 percentage points.

    “There is a lot to be said for not reducing the tax burden on higher income earners, and in the medium term, for raising taxes on very high incomes and assets,” says economist Stefan Bach of DIW Berlin, who carried out the study with his colleague Jakob Knautz.

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Hohe Energiepreise: Arme Haushalte trotz Entlastungspaketen am stärksten belastet

    Handelsblatt: Entlastungspakete der Bundesregierung für hohe Energiepreise: Es profitieren die Falschen

    All results in the overview

  • Frau steht am Straßenrand und hält sich ihr Shirt vor die Nase

    Better air quality in cities

    In Germany, “environmental zones” are urban areas where only low-emission vehicles are allowed. The aim in creating these zones is to improve air quality and thus to have a positive impact on people’s health. Yet according to the results of a study based on data from “Living in Germany,” the life satisfaction of city inhabitants actually declines in the first few years after these zones are created.

    “People need about four to five years to get used to environmental zones,” says DIW researcher Nicole Wägner. In her view, the reason for this lies in people’s living situations: People whose mobility is reduced due to an environmental zone or who have to dig deep into their pockets to buy a low-emission car find it more difficult to accept them.

    People under the age of 65 and people with diesel-fueled cars are initially less satisfied when an environmental zone is created. “Younger people have a greater need for mobility and more often have to use a car to get to work. There are stricter standards for diesel-fueled cars in environmental zones than for gas-fueled cars,” explains co-author Luis Sarmiento from the Milan-based RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment.

    Further information

    DIW Berlin (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung): Low emission zones improve air quality and health but temporarily decrease life satisfaction

    All results in the overview

  • Woman caring for elderly gentleman with cane, she supports him and carries his shopping bag

    Low-income workers need supportive care services six years earlier

    New analyses based on data from the study Living in Germany show that people with lower incomes have a higher risk of needing supportive care and nursing services. Men at risk of poverty are likely to need care almost six years earlier than higher-earning men, while women need care around three and a half years earlier.

    Occupation also plays a role. On average, blue-collar workers need supportive care and nursing services about four years earlier than civil servants. In addition, men and women with high-stress jobs need supportive care and nursing services on average 4.7 and 2.7 years earlier, respectively.

    “In Germany, there is social inequality not just in income and life expectancy, but also in the risk of needing care,” says DIW expert Peter Haan, who worked with colleagues from the SOEP in conducting the study.

    Further information Ärmere werden häufiger und früher pflegebedürftig

    DIW Berlin (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung): Need for long-term care depends on social standing

    All results in the overview

  • Mother and infant in a stretcher

    How trust influences vaccination readiness

    When social trust is high, people are more inclined to collaborate—even in crisis situations. This mechanism has been at work during the pandemic, according to results of a special survey of more than 12,000 participants in the long-term study “Living in Germany”.

    According to this special survey on life in Germany during COVID-19, trust has been high during the pandemic. In fact, social trust increased between February 2020 and June 2021. The results show how important trust has been in overcoming the pandemic: People with higher trust in others are more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They are also more likely to follow COVID-19 rules such as “keep a safe distance,” “wash your hands,” and “wear a mask.”

    Further information

    DIW Berlin: Corona-Pandemie: Vertrauensvolle Menschen sind eher zur Impfung bereit und halten sich eher an AHA-Regeln

    All results in the overview

    Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash