Higher sense of responsibility – less spread of the coronavirus | Alina Bartscher

Socially responsible behaviour plays a major role in the dissemination of COVID-19, as a recent study by ECONtribute member Alina Bartscher and co-authors from the ZEW Mannheim shows. In regions with a higher sense of social responsibility, the virus spreads more slowly and excess mortality is lower than in areas where the common good is less important.

The authors of the study investigated the correlation between social capital and COVID-19 case numbers in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden. Social capital is a common measure of social responsibility. The social capital of a region is measured by voter participation. Voting implies costly effort for the individual, while  one’s own vote only marginally influences the election result. Since people still vote out of a sense of civic responsibility, regions with low voter turnout are considered to have low social capital. The researchers confirm their results with data on blood donations as an alternative measure.

“We see that Covid-19 spreads less fast in areas with higher social capital, partly because citizens voluntarily restrict their mobility. A high sense of responsibility therefore leads to a stronger containment of the virus,” explains Alina Bartscher, one of the authors of the study and doctoral candidate at the Bonn Graduate School of Economics and in the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence. The study results also indicate that policymakers in regions with higher social capital can rely on policies which restrict daily life less.


Downloadable content:

Discussion Paper

ECONtribute keeps on growing: Prof. Anna Bindler joins Cluster of Excellence

Prof. Anna Bindler’s research focuses on Economics of Crime. © ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy

On May 25, 2020, Anna Bindler started as Associate Professor at the Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy, being part of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne. Bindler was previously employed as Assistant Professor in Economics at the University of Gothenburg. Prior, she completed her PhD in Economics at University College London. With her new position, Bindler returns to her roots in the Rhineland: from 2005 to 2010 she studied Economics at the University of Bonn. “I am very much looking forward to my new tasks – both at the Cluster of Excellence and the University of Cologne.  I am excited to be part of the Cluster and its ambitious team “, Anna Bindler explains.

Prorector for Research and Innovation Prof. Bettina Rockenbach welcomed Anna Bindler at the University

Prorector for Research and Innovation Prof. Bettina Rockenbach welcomed Anna Bindler at the University of Cologne. © Private

Bindler’s research focuses on applied microeconomics, labour economics, economics of crime, and law and economics. Specifically, she is concerned with questions such as how crime affects the labour market situations and living conditions of its victims or factors that shape decisions made within criminal justice systems. “Anna Bindler is a great asset to both the University of Cologne and the cluster. Despite the pandemic circumstances, we wish her a successful start in Cologne,” said Prof. Andreas Schabert, spokesperson of the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence: Markets & Public Policy. Due to the corona pandemic, Bindler had to postpone her start in Cologne until the middle of the semester.

Cluster member Tomáš Jagelka awarded for his research

Cluster member Tomáš Jagelka was awarded with the prize of the French Economic Association for the best PhD in economics defended in France in 2019. In his thesis “Preferences, Ability, and Personality: Understanding Decision-making Under Risk and Delay” Jagelka focuses on improving the measurement of preferences and skills using structural econometric methods. He established a relationship between the economic and psychological frameworks for understanding the drivers of human behaviour. Specifically, he demonstrated a link between preferences for risk and time – fundamental parameters of economic models – and three of the Big Five psychological personality traits. For his work at his doctoral university, the École Polytechnique, he also received a prize by the International Association for Applied Econometrics (IAAE). His work was supervised by Christian Belzil, Research Professor at École Polytechnique.

Jagelka works with ECONtribute spokesperson Professor Thomas Dohmen at the University of Bonn and is visiting the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago with Professor James J. Heckman. Together, they set up a long-term experimental collaboration with the Laboratory Schools aimed studying preferences and skills.

More information on Tomáš Jagelka on his website.

Cluster members advise German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy

ECONtribute professors Felix Bierbrauer, Axel Ockenfels, and Martin Hellwig are part of the Scientific Advisory Board which advises the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy independently in form of letters and expert opinions on economic policy issues. This week, the Scientific Advisory Board published a report on the economics of the Corona Crisis. They welcome the fact that the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy acted quickly and decisively to bring the epidemic under control and limited the massive impact on the economy. Compared with many other countries, Germany has so far mastered these challenges well. The Board discusses challenges in the wake of the corona pandemic, ranging from measures to help companies and employees, through economic and structure-building impulses and makes proposals on existing and future instruments.

You can find the letter in German here.

ECONtribute Law & Econ Seminar: Pandemics and Systemic Financial Risk

Steven L. Schwarcz, Professor at Duke University School of Law, holds the upcoming ECONtribute Law and Econ Workshop on 12th of May at 18:00 h. He will present his paper on Pandemics and Systemic Financial Risk (with Howell Jackson). To register for the workshop, subscribe to the mailing list by sending an email with the following content, to sympa@listen.uni-bonn.de: “subscribe lawecon First Name Last Name”. You will then receive the Zoom details.



More information about the paper:

The coronavirus has produced a public health debacle of the first-order. But the virus is also propagating the kind of exogenous shock that can precipitate – and to a considerable degree is already precipitating – a systemic event for our financial system. This currently unfolding systemic shock comes a little more than a decade after the last financial crisis. In the intervening years, much as been written about the global financial crisis of 2008 and its systemic dimensions. Additional scholarly attention has focused on first devising and then critiquing the macroprudential reforms that ensued, both in the Dodd-Frank Act and the many regulations and policy guidelines that implemented its provisions. In this essay, we consider the coronavirus pandemic and its implications for the financial system through the lens of the frameworks we had developed for the analysis of systemic financial risks in the aftermath of the last financial crisis. We compare and contrast the two crises in terms of systemic financial risks and then explore two dimensions on which financial regulatory authorities might profitably engage with public health officials.
As we are writing this essay, the pandemic’s ultimate scope and consequences, financial and otherwise, are unknown and unknowable; our analysis, therefore, is necessarily provisional and tentative. We hope, however, it may be of interest and potential use to the academic community and policymakers.

ECONtribute Webinar with Felix Bierbrauer

Felix Bierbrauer will present his latest research in the upcoming ECONtribute Webinar. On a regulary basis, Cluster members present one of the nine Cluster’s Research Areas and their current research to the research community. The webinar includes a presentation as well as a Q&A afterwards and will be held via Zoom.

Date and time: 13th of May, 12:00-13:00h CET.

Please register here for the seminar.

Politically feasible reforms of non-linear tax systems

Felix Bierbrauer, Professor of Economics, ECONtribute, University of Cologne

At the webinar, Felix Bierbrauer presents a conceptual framework for the analysis of politically feasible tax reforms. First, he proves a median voter theorem for monotonic reforms of non-linear tax systems. This yields a characterization of reforms that are preferred by a majority of individuals over the status quo and hence politically feasible. Second, he shows that every Pareto-efficient tax system is such that moving towards lower tax rates for below-median incomes and towards higher rates for above median incomes is politically feasible. Third, he develops a method for diagnosing whether a given tax system admits reforms that are politically feasible and/or welfare-improving.

More information about Felix Bierbrauer and his work.

The webinar was held on 13th of May 2020. You can watch the recorded session below: