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SHARE based COVID-19 Research

Book Chapters

Koroleva, S., S. Sniķere, A. Aleksandrovs, I. Reine, A. Ivanovs and I. Gehtmane-Hofmane (2021): The Mental Health of the Elderly Population throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic in Latvia: The Role of Social and Support Networks.In: The 8th International Multidisciplinary Research Conference Society. Health. Welfare. (Rīga, 24 – 26 March 2021): Abstracts, 179. Riga: Riga Stradiņš University.

Abstract: Ageing is often accompanied by a decreased frequency and range of social contacts, and an increase in loneliness. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the social distancing requirement also reduced the social contacts of the elderly and their limited opportunities to receive social support. The aim of the study is to assess the role of social contacts and support in the changes in psycho-emotional states of the elderly. The analysis is based on Latvian data derived from The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)Wave 8 (n=1207), SHARE Covid-19 questionnaire. Indices of social isolation were constructed based on the self-reported measurements of social contacts, mutual support and assistance. Logistic regression models were calculated with dependent variables defined as experienced socio-emotional disturbances to identify the impact of social isolation on mental health during the crisis. Among respondents aged 50+, almost a one-fifth have felt the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their mental health. A significantly higher proportion of those who have experienced problems in the past are single people and those vulnerable to social isolation: three times more people had experienced anxiety in the past month, twice as many people had experienced sadness, anxiety, and sleep disorders were present in 44% of this group. Reduced social contacts and limited availability of social support in times of crisis can become a factor in increased social exclusion and mental health deterioration. Therefore it is important to continue providing social support and assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, involving volunteers to reduce loneliness among the elderly, as well as isolation and the associated deterioration of their mental health, and to implement strategic communication at the national level to reduce anxiety among seniors.VPP-COVID-2020/1-0011 “Impact of COVID-19 on health care system and public health in Latvia; ways in preparing health sector for future epidemics”.

Mieriņa, I. and I. Reine(2021): Why did they need to come now? COVID-19 Crisis Strains Relationships with Returning and Visiting Compatriots. In: SOCIETY. INTEGRATION. EDUCATION. Proceedings of the 15th International Scientific Conference (May 28th-29th) VI, 160-171. Rezekne: Rezekne Academy of Technologies. DOI: 10.17770/sie2021vol6.6266.

Abstract: One of the first areas severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic was international travel. In March/April, with commercial flights coming to a near halt, the governments were struggling to help their stranded citizens to return home. Extra flights and ferry trips were organised, and the opportunity to return was used by many emigrants worried about the uncertainty and the possible future development of the pandemic. This paper containing both data collected through survey and in-depth interviews with people aged 50+ in Latvia, is the first to explore the reactions of the society to repatriation policy implemented by the government of Latvia, and to explore how the Covid-19 situation has affected the attitudes towards return migrants in general. Importantly, it demonstrates how education moderates these attitudes. The results show that most of the population consider returning migrants as a significant source of infections, and many had doubts if they follow self-isolation and other rules responsibly. Those with the higher education were in general more supportive of the repatriation policy demonstrating the importance of education and explaining difficult decisions in order to reduce tension and fear.

Rajevska, O., A. Reine and D. Baltmane (2021): Impact of the First Wave of COVID-19 on the Employment of Older People in Latvia, the Baltic States and Europe.In: The 8th International Multidisciplinary Research Conference Society. Health. Welfare. (Rīga, 24 – 26 March 2021): Abstracts, 13. Riga: Riga Stradiņš University.

Abstract: The objective of the study was to examine changes in the employment of older people brought about by the first wave coronavirus pandemic in Latvia in comparison with other European countries. The study is based on the SHARE Wave 8 COVID-19 Survey conducted in June-August 2020 in 26 European countries and Israel via computer-assisted telephone interviews. Questions examined how people aged 50 years and older coped with socioeconomic and health-related impact of COVID-19. The methods of descriptive statistics were applied in order to compare the influence of the first coronavirus wave on employment in older age groups in Latvia and across Europe. In Latvia, 6% of employed or self-employed aged 50+ experienced unemployment, laid off or business closed during the first wave of COVID-19, which is one of the lowest rates among all participating countries. The strongest impact was suffered by older workers in France (39%), Greece (36%) and Cyprus (35%). 75% of Latvians continued to work at their usual work place. Meanwhile 10% of participants in Latvia started to work from home; and 9% combined working from home and at the usual work place. Most of the employed experienced neither a reduced nor increased number of working hours. Participation of older age groups in labour market is comparatively high in Latvia and other Baltic States and the COVID-19 (at least, its first wave) had relatively mild impact on it. The branches with traditionally high share of workers aged 50+ (education, healthcare, agriculture, administrative services) were least affected by lockdown measures. Although the prevalence of remote work from home in Latvia was lower than the European average, this issue requires more regulation as the existing legislation lacks provisions on remote work and does not therefore ensure protection of workers' rights and health.

Reine, I., A. Ivanovs, S. Sniķere, I. Mieriņa, I. Gehtmane-Hofmane and I. Koroļeva(2021): Overcoming Social Isolation with Digital Technologies among Ageing Populations during Covid-19.In: SOCIETY. INTEGRATION. EDUCATION. Proceedings of the 15th International Scientific Conference (May 28th-29th) IV, 171-178. Rezekne: Rezekne Academy of Technologies. DOI: 10.17770/sie2021vol4.6356.

Abstract: During Covid-19 social isolation has become more common worldwide, however, some groups, especially elderly people, might have experienced dramatically limited communication due to the lack of skills and access to digital technologies. In this paper, we examined if education was associated with the use of digital technologies to maintain contacts with a family, friends, other social networks and services. The survey was conducted in June-August 2020 by doing 1089 computer-assisted telephone interviews. The questions examined how people aged 50 years and older coped with socioeconomic and health-related impact of COVID-19. We used logistic regression analysis to study the association between the use of digital technologies and the level of education by gender and age. The higher the education was, the more it strongly associated with the use of digital technologies (OR 5.85; 95% CI 3.78-9.03). As expected, age was a strong explanatory factor, however, we did not find consistent age and gender differences. Among those who used digital technologies, analyses showed that overcoming social isolation was related to the education level. The conclusion of the study is that education has inevitable impact on the use of digital technologies and social contacts, however high education level is not crucial for the acquisition of information. It seems that digital technologies are important tools to prevent social isolation and are related to education that includes digital access and competencies.

Reine, I., A. Ivanovs and S. Tomsone (2021): Access to Healthcare during COVID-19 among Ageing Population in LatviaThe 8th International Multidisciplinary Research Conference Society. Health. Welfare. (Rīga, 24 – 26 March 2021): Abstracts, 3. Riga: Riga Stradiņš University.

Abstract: Medical staff has worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to test and treat coronavirus patients. However, the focus on the virus has caused huge disruption to healthcare services resulting in delayed treatment for patients with other serious conditions. Additionally, the reasons for forgoing or abstaining healthcare could also be related to individual decisions. We used data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), where the respondents 50 years and older of the Wave 8, were asked to answer, among other, questions on delayed, postponed or denied healthcare services during the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic in Latvia. The study is based on 195 483 valid weighted cases. Pearson’s chi-squared test was performed to assess the association between the variables. Preliminary results show that 14% of the respondents forwent medical treatment. General practitioner or specialist/dentist check-ups were forgone (both 9%) or postponed more commonly (16% respectively 11%). Appointment was denied to 7% of the respondents. We found significant gender differences (p < 0.001), but they varied depending on the type of treatment and reason for not receiving it. During the first wave of Covid-19 in Latvia, there were few older people that chose themselves or were forced to abstain planned medical treatment or operations, as well as rehabilitation and physiotherapy. However, it is not clear how limited access to the healthcare for other reasons has affected health of ageing population and remains to be studied. The study was performed within the project/agreement No. 1.1.1.2/VIAA/3/19/540 'Challenges of ageing in the Baltic Sea region'.

Zorrilla-Muñoz, V., M. Agulló-Tomás, M. Forjaz, E. Fernandez, C. Rodriguez-Blazquez, A. Ayala and G. Fernandez-Mayoralas(2021): Technology, Gender and COVID-19. Analysis of Perceived Health in Adults and Older People.  In: Gao, Q. and J. Zhou. Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. Supporting Everyday Life Activities. HCII 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science vol 12787, 363-379. Cham: Springer.

Abstract: This chapter aims to know the psychosocial impact and social behaviours and related to the perception of technological needs in adults and older persons with diseases, health problems and/or sensory or motor disabilities. This work delves into this reality from a gender, inclusive and, at the same time, technological, biotechnological and/or virtual device approach. This goal includes two secondary objectives: 1) To know the health conditions that affect the adult and older people, whether they suffer from chronic diseases and health problems. In this way, it will be possible to understand if there are specific conditions in which the adult and older persons have felt especially sensitive during the pandemic outbreak in Spain. 2) To understand the needs of older people with sensory or motor disabilities before the pandemic and how this connects with the looking forward to an activity after COVID-19. One conclusion is that new emerging technologies are essential in aspects such as safety, hygiene and other social factors that help to improve autonomy and independence - such as canes and support devices in functional disability type EGARA - of older persons during and after the pandemic times. In addition to the needs of adults and the older persons prior to the pandemic, especially in older women, there are others that require research from a more inclusive and gender perspective.

Journal Articles

Arnault, L., F. Jusot and T. Renaud(2021): Economic Vulnerability and Unmet Healthcare Needs among the Population Aged 50 + years During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe.European Journal of Ageing. DOI: 10.1007/s10433-021-00645-3.

Abstract: This study investigated the effect of economic vulnerability on unmet needs during the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic in Europe among adults aged 50 years and older using data from the regular administration of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the specific telephone survey administered regarding COVID-19 (SHARE Corona Survey). It addressed three main research questions: Did people who were in difficult economic situations before the epidemic face more barriers to accessing healthcare than others? If so, to what extent can these discrepancies be attributed to initial differences in health status, use of care, income or education between vulnerable individuals and non-vulnerable individuals or to differential effects of the pandemic on these groups? Did the effect of economic vulnerability with regard to unmet needs during the pandemic differ across countries? Unmet healthcare needs are characterised by three types of behaviours likely to be induced by the pandemic: forgoing care for fear of contracting COVID-19, having pre-scheduled care postponed and being unable to obtain medical appointments or treatments when needed. Our results substantiate the existence of significant differences in accessing healthcare during the pandemic according to economic vulnerability and of cumulative effects of economic and medical vulnerabilities: the impact of economic vulnerability is notably stronger among those who were in poor health before the outbreak and thus the oldest individuals. The cross-country comparison highlighted heterogeneous effects of economic vulnerability on forgoing care and having care postponed among countries, which are not comparable to the initial cross-country differences in social inequalities in access to healthcare.

Atzendorf, J. and S. Gruber(2021): Depression and Loneliness of Older Adults in Europe and Israel after the First Wave of Covid-19.. European Journal of Ageing. DOI: 10.1007/s10433-021-00640-8.

Abstract: Epidemic control measures that aim to introduce social distancing help to decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, their consequences in terms of mental well-being might be negative, especially for older adults. While existing studies mainly focus on the time during the first lockdown, we look at the weeks afterward in order to measure the medium-term consequences of the first wave of the pandemic. Using data from the SHARE Corona Survey, we include retired respondents aged 60 and above from 25 European countries plus Israel. Combining SHARE data with macro-data from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker allows us to include macro-indicators at the country level, namely the number of deaths per 100,000 and the number of days with stringent epidemic control measures, in addition to individual characteristics. The findings show that both macro-indicators are influential for increased feelings of sadness/depression, but that individual factors are crucial for explaining increased feelings of loneliness in the time after the first lockdown. Models with interaction terms reveal that the included macro-indicators have negative well-being consequences, particularly for the oldest survey participants. Additionally, the results reveal that especially those living alone had a higher risk for increased loneliness in the time after the first COVID-19 wave.

Bergmann, M. and M. Wagner (2021): The Impact of COVID-19 on Informal Caregiving and Care Receiving Across Europe During the First Phase of the Pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health 9. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.673874

Abstract: Purpose: We analyzed the effects of COVID-19 as well as its accompanying epidemiological control measures on health-related outcomes (physical and mental health) and unmet care needs of both caregivers and care recipients across Europe and Israel by taking into account country differences. Methods: We applied comparisons of adjusted predictions, controlling for a large set of relevant respondent characteristics, to investigate changes in the physical and mental health of caregivers and care recipients due to COVID-19. Furthermore, multilevel regression models were used to analyze the effect of individual and contextual indicators on the probability of reporting difficulties in receiving care. For the analyses, we used data from 26 countries with 51,983 respondents over 50 years based on the eighth wave of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which had to be suspended in March 2020, and the SHARE Corona Survey fielded from June to August 2020. Results: During the first phase of the pandemic in spring/summer 2020, the frequency of providing personal care to parents increased in almost all European countries, while care to children, in turn, decreased. Parental caregivers who increased the frequency of providing personal care reported significantly more mental health strains, that is, feeling sad/depressed and anxious/nervous more often since the outbreak of the pandemic. With respect to receiving care, about one out of five care recipients had difficulty in obtaining adequate care from outside the household during the pandemic. The perception of unmet care needs was significantly associated with country differences regarding the duration of the stay-at-home orders. In contrast, the number of confirmed deaths did not have a significant effect on perceiving difficulties related to receiving care. Conclusions: Our findings show the extent of the burden to which caregivers and care recipients were exposed with respect to the unintended consequences of COVID-19-related epidemiological control measures. There is a great need within this population for interventions, which effectively reduce the burden as well as the symptoms of anxiety or depression for caregivers as well as care recipients. This should be recognized by (health) policymakers and social organizations.

Bertoni, M., M. Celidoni, C. Dal Bianco and G. Weber (2021): How did European retirees respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? Economics Letters 203. DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2021.109853.

Abstract: We investigate the role of retirement on the adoption of preventive behaviours and on mental health during the first wave of the pandemic. We address the endogeneity of the timing of retirement using variation in early retirement and old-age pension eligibility. We find that those who retired earlier responded to the pandemic by limiting their mobility more, and by adopting stricter preventive behaviours in public. These limitations affected the mental health of singles in retirement.

Bíró, A., R. Branyiczki and P. Elek. (2021): Time Patterns of Precautionary Health Behaviours during an Easing Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe. European Journal of Ageing. DOI: 10.1007/s10433-021-00636-4.

Abstract: Using data from the COVID-19 questionnaire of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we investigate the time patterns of precautionary health behaviours of individuals aged 50 years and above during the summer of 2020, an easing phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. We also examine how these health behaviours differ by the presence of chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol level, heart disease, diabetes or chronic bronchitis, which can be considered as risk factors for COVID-19. Our results suggest that while on average, people became less precautious during the analysed time period, this is less so for those who are at higher risk. We also document large regional differences in precautionary health behaviours and show that higher-risk individuals are on average more cautious in all regions. We conclude that people adjusted their health behaviours in line with the generally understood risk of the COVID-19 disease. At the same time, our results also point out divergences in the level of willingness to take different precautionary steps.

Cohn-Schwartz, E., A. Vitman-Schorr and R. Khalaila (2021): Physical Distancing is Related to Fewer Electronic and In-person Contacts and to Increased Loneliness during the COVID-19 Pandemic among Older Europeans.Quality of Life Research. DOI: 10.1007/s11136-021-02949-4.

Abstract: Purpose. During the COVID-19 pandemic older adults are asked to maintain physical distancing, which can be linked to loneliness. While older people are encouraged to use electronic communication to stay socially connected, it remains an open question whether electronic contacts are related to lower loneliness during the pandemic. This study examined the associations of physical distancing during the pandemic with loneliness and the role of in-person and electronic contacts with children and non-kin as explaining these associations across European regions. Methods. The study used data from Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), collected during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Mediation and moderation analyses tested the direct and indirect associations between physical distancing, contact frequency and loneliness, as well as the differences across European regions. Results. The results indicate that adults who reported higher frequency of physical distancing also felt lonelier during the pandemic. This association was partly explained by social contacts—those who practiced physical distancing maintained less in-person contact with children and non-kin and less electronic contact with non-kin, which were related to feeling lonelier. Adults in Southern European countries felt lonelier and reported more frequent contacts. The moderation analyses showed that the link between physical distancing and loneliness was found in the northern region, but not in the southern and eastern regions of Europe. Conclusion. This study can indicate that attention should be paid to adults who may struggle to maintain social contacts in light of physical distancing guidelines.

González-Touya, M., A. Stoyanova and R. Urbanos-Garrido (2021): COVID-19 and Unmet Healthcare Needs of Older People: Did Inequity Arise in Europe? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(17). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18179177

Abstract: Background: The disruption in healthcare provision due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced many non-urgent medical treatments and appointments to be postponed or denied, which is expected to have huge impact on non-acute health conditions, especially in vulnerable populations such as older people. Attention should be paid to equity issues related to unmet needs during the pandemic. Methods: We calculated concentration indices to identify income-related inequalities and horizontal inequity in unmet needs due to postponed and denied healthcare in people over 50 during COVID-19, using data from the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Results: Very few countries show significant income-related inequalities in postponed, rescheduled or denied treatments and medical appointments, usually favouring the rich. Only Estonia, Italy and Romania show a significant horizontal inequity (HI) in postponed healthcare, which apparently favours the poor. Significant pro-rich inequity in denied healthcare is found in Italy, Poland and Greece. Conclusions: Although important income-related horizontal inequity in unmet needs of European older adults during the early waves of the COVID-19 pandemic is not evident for most countries, some of them have to carefully monitor barriers to healthcare access. Delays in diagnosis and treatments may ultimately translate into adverse health outcomes, reduced quality of life and, even, widen socio-economic health inequalities among older people.

Ksinan Jiskrova, G., M. Bobák, H. Pikhart and A. Ksinan(2021): Job Loss and Lower Healthcare Utilisation due to COVID-19 among Older Adults across 27 European Countries. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (online first). DOI: 10.1136/jech-2021-216715.

Abstract: Background. Older adults are at greater risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19; however, the impact of the pandemic on their economic activity and non-COVID-19-related healthcare utilisation is not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and predictors of COVID-19-related unemployment and healthcare utilisation in a sample of older adults across 27 European countries. Methods. We used data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe COVID-19 Survey, collected between June and August 2020. Participants (n=52 061) reported whether they lost a job, forwent medical treatment and whether their appointment was postponed due to COVID-19. Three-level models were estimated for each outcome to test the effects of individual, household and country-level characteristics. Results. The mean prevalence of reported job loss, and forgone and postponed medical care was 19%, 12% and 26%, respectively. Job loss was associated with female sex, lower education and household income, and older age in women. For example, the OR of job loss, comparing primary versus tertiary (college) education, was 1.89 (95% CI 1.59 to 2.26). Forgone and postponed medical care was associated with older age in men, female sex and higher education. At the country level, postponed medical care was associated with more stringent governmental anti-COVID measures. Conclusion. Job loss and lower healthcare utilisation for non-COVID-19-related reasons were common among older adults and were associated with several sociodemographic characteristics. Job loss appeared to disproportionally affect already economically vulnerable individuals, raising concerns about the exacerbation of social inequalities.

Litwin, H. and M. Levinsky (2021): Network-exposure Severity and Self-protective Behaviors: The Case of COVID-19.Innovation in Aging. DOI: 10.1093/geroni/igab015.

Abstract: Background and Objectives. To clarify whether awareness of the extent and severity of exposure to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus in the social networks of older adults is related to the engagement by the latter in self-protective behaviors. The inquiry is guided by the Health Belief Model and by concepts from the domain of social networks. Research Design and Methods. Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) were used, including the SHARE COVID-19 Survey executed in the summer of 2020. The study sample numbered 33,053 persons aged 50 and older in 25 countries. We regressed a logged count of self-protective behaviors on network-exposure severity, controlling for sociodemographic background, country, personality traits, and self-exposure severity. Age and network-exposure interaction terms were examined, as were "close-family" and "other" network ties. Results. Network-exposure severity was positively associated with the extent of engagement in self-protective behaviors among older adults, but mainly among the oldest group, aged 70 and older. Awareness of exposure severity in "close-family" and "other" networks were similarly associated with self-protection. Respondents from countries with the lowest rates of COVID-19 infection at the time (Latvia, Finland, and Denmark) engaged in fewer self-protective behaviors, while those from countries with high infection rates (Spain, Italy, and Portugal), self-protected to a greater degree. Discussion and Implications. The study findings point to the role of the social network, even if indirect, in promoting self-protective behaviors among the oldest segment of society. Policymakers should collaborate with the social networks of older adults in order to promote the adoption of self-protective behaviors. Such intervention might help to reduce the threat of infection among the most vulnerable age group.

Litwin, H. and M. Levinsky (2021): Social Networks and Mental Health Change in Older Adults After the Covid-19 Outbreak. Aging & Mental Health (online first). DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2021.1902468.

Abstract: Objectives. This article examines the influence of social networks on selected aspects of mental health following the outbreak of the coronavirus. Method. We linked data from a post outbreak telephone survey in 2020 by the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, with baseline data from SHARE Wave 6 (2016) (n = 33,485). Two mental health measures (depression and anxiety) were regressed on social network variables relevant to the Covid-19 crisis (frequency of face-to-face contact and frequency of contact through electronic means), controlling for confounders. Interactions of age group and social networks were considered. Baseline mental health was controlled, focusing the analysis on post-outbreak mental health change. Results. Face-to-face network contact significantly reduced negative mental health changes while electronic contact significantly increased them. The age interactions were insignificant. Country differences were observed. Conclusion. The findings suggest that face-to-face social networks can moderate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on important aspects of mental health.

Maltagliati, S., S. Sieber, P. Sarrazin, S. Cullati, A. Chalabaev, G. P. Millet, M. P. Boisgontier and B. Cheval (2021): Muscle Strength Explains the Protective Effect of Physical Activity against COVID-19 Hospitalization among Adults aged 50 Years and Older. Journal of Sports Sciences. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2021.1964721.

Abstract: Physical activity has been proposed as a protective factor for COVID-19 hospitalisation. However, the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. We examined the association between physical activity and COVID-19 hospitalisation and whether this relationship was explained by risk factors (chronic conditions, weak muscle strength). We used data from adults over 50 years from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. The outcome was self-reported hospitalisation due to COVID-19, before August 2020. The main exposure was physical activity, self-reported between 2004 and 2017. Among the 3139 participants included (69.3 ± 8.5 years, 1763 women), 266 were tested positive for COVID-19, 66 were hospitalised. Logistic regression models showed that individuals who engaged in physical activity more than once a week had lower odds of COVID-19 hospitalisation than individuals who hardly ever or never engaged in physical activity (odds ratios = 0.41, 95% confidence interval = 0.22–0.74, p = .004). This association between physical activity and COVID-19 hospitalisation was explained by muscle strength, but not by other risk factors. These findings suggest that, after 50 years, engaging in physical activity is associated with lower odds of COVID-19 hospitalisation. This protective effect of physical activity may be explained by muscle strength.

Mendoza-Jiménez, M.-J., T.-V. Hannemann and J. Atzendorf(2021): Behavioral Risk Factors and Adherence to Preventive Measures: Evidence from the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health 9. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.674597.

Abstract: : Behavioral risk factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, and unhealthy food intake are added risk factors for severe outcomes of COVID-19 infections. Preventive measures to avoid infections are therefore particularly important for individuals engaging in behavioral risk factors. We seek to determine whether behavioral risk factors (BRFs) play a significant role in the adherence to preventive COVID-19 measures in a population aged 50 and above. The SHARE wave 8 (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) and SHARE COVID-19 Survey served as the database, resulting in an analytical sample of 17,588 respondents from 23 European countries plus Israel. Of these 36.04% engaged in at least one BRF and 16.68% engaged in 3 or more BRFs. Multilevel logistic regressions revealed that engagement in one BRF was significantly associated with less adherence to hygiene preventive measures, i.e., hand-sanitizing, hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes (OR: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.78; 0.94), as was engagement in two BRFs (OR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.74; 0.97) and three or more BRFs (OR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.59; 0.88). No such association was found between engagement in BRFs and adherences to social isolation preventive measures, i.e., avoiding meeting more than five people, visiting others or going shopping, or regulated preventive measures, i.e., wearing a mask and keeping physical distance. The found association was also stronger when three or more BRFs were engaged in (1 vs. 3 BRFs: χ 2 = 3.43, p = 0.06; 2 vs. 3 BRFs: χ 2 = 6.05; p = 0.01). The study gives insight into the protective behavior of a population with inherent vulnerability during a global health emergency. It lays the foundation for follow-up research about the evolution of adherence to preventive measures as the pandemic progresses and about long-term behavioral changes. In addition, it can aide efforts in increasing preventive compliance by raising awareness of the added risk behavioral risk factors pose.

Rachaniotis, N. P., T. K. Dasaklis, F. Fotopoulos and P. Tinios (2021): A Two-Phase Stochastic Dynamic Model for COVID-19 Mid-Term Policy Recommendations in Greece: A Pathway towards Mass Vaccination. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(5). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18052497.

Abstract: From 7 November 2020, Greece adopted a second nationwide lockdown policy to mitigate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the first took place from 23 March to 4 May 2020), just as the second wave of COVID-19 was advancing, as did other European countries. To secure the full benefits of mass vaccination, which started in early January 2021, it is of utmost importance to complement it with mid-term non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). The objective was to minimize human losses and to limit social and economic costs. In this paper a two-phase stochastic dynamic network compartmental model (a pre-vaccination SEIR until 15 February 2021 and a post-vaccination SVEIR from 15 February 2021 to 30 June 2021) is developed. Three scenarios are assessed for the first phase: (a) A baseline scenario, which lifts the national lockdown and all NPIs in January 2021; (b) a “semi-lockdown” scenario with school opening, partial retail sector operation, universal mask wearing, and social distancing/teleworking in January 2021; and (c) a “rolling lockdown” scenario combining a partial lifting of measures in January 2021 followed by a third nationwide lockdown in February 2021. In the second phase three scenarios with different vaccination rates are assessed. Publicly available data along with some first results of the SHARE COVID-19 survey conducted in Greece are used as input. The results regarding the first phase indicate that the “semi-lockdown” scenario clearly outperforms the third lockdown scenario (5.7% less expected fatalities); the second phase is extremely sensitive on the availability of sufficient vaccine supplies and high vaccination rates.

Scheel-Hincke, L., L. Ahrenfeldt and K. Andersen-Ranberg(2021): Sex Differences in Activity and Health Changes following COVID-19 in Europe - Results from the SHARE COVID-19 Survey. European Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckab096.

Abstract: While a female advantage in the overall survival from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been demonstrated, potential sex differences in health changes is not investigated. In a sample of 21,395 men and 29,139 women aged 50+ from the SHARE COVID-19 Survey, we investigated sex differences in social activities, self-rated health, and mental health following the COVID-19 outbreak. We found considerable sex differences in all European regions with women experiencing larger negative changes across all social activities and health measures than men lending support for the male-female health survival paradox.

Skałacka, K. and G. Pajestka (2021): Digital or In-Person: The Relationship between Mode of Interpersonal Communication during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Mental Health in Older Adults from 27 Countries. Journal of Family Nursing (online first). DOI: 10.1177/10748407211031980.

Abstract: Social distancing has limited the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but also changed communication patterns. However, studies of how mental health in older adults relates to the usage of different modes of interpersonal communication are sparse. The aim of this study was to analyze how COVID-19-related changes in the frequencies of using different modes of communication (digital or in-person) have influenced mental health in older adults from 27 countries. Our study was based on part of Wave 8 of the SHARE data set, which focused on the living situation of older adults during the pandemic. Findings suggest that in-person communication benefited mental health in people aged ≥60 years more than digital communication. The older the person, the less beneficial digital communication was for their mental health, especially during interactions with their children. Our findings are useful for researchers and practitioners interested in technologically meditated interventions.

Smolić, Š., I. Čipin and P. Međimurec (2021): Access to Healthcare for People Aged 50+ in Europe during the COVID-19 Outbreak. European Journal of Ageing (online first). DOI: 10.1007/s10433-021-00631-9.

Abstract: This paper combines SHARE Corona Survey and SHARE Wave 7 data for 25 European countries and Israel (N = 40,919) with institutional and epidemic-related country characteristics to investigate healthcare access for Europeans aged 50+ during the outbreak of COVID-19. We use a micro–macro approach to examine whether and to what extent barriers to accessing healthcare measured by reported unmet healthcare needs vary within and between countries. We consider various aspects of barriers and distinguish among: (1) respondents who forewent medical treatment because they were afraid of becoming infected with the Coronavirus; (2) respondents who had pre-scheduled medical appointments postponed by health providers due to the outbreak; and (3) respondents who tried to arrange a medical appointment but were denied one. Limited access to healthcare during the initial outbreak was more common for the occupationally active, women, the more educated and those living in urban areas. A bad economic situation, poor overall health and higher healthcare utilisation were robust predictors of unmet healthcare. People aged 50+ in countries of ‘Old’ Europe, countries with higher universal health coverage and stricter containment and closure policies were more likely to have medical services postponed. Policymakers should address the healthcare needs of older people with chronic health conditions and a poor socio-economic status who were made more vulnerable by this pandemic. In the aftermath of the health crisis, public health systems might experience a great revival in healthcare demand, a challenge that should be mitigated by careful planning and provision of healthcare services.

Tur-Sinai, A., N. Bentur, P. Fabbietti and G. Lamura(2021): Impact of the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Formal and Informal Care of Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Cross-National Clustering of Empirical Evidence from 23 Countries. Sustainability 13(13). DOI: 10.3390/su13137277

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has been dramatically affecting the life of older adults with care needs and their family caregivers. This study illustrates how the initial outbreak of the pandemic changed the supply of formal and informal care to older adults in European countries and Israel and assesses the resilience of these countries in providing support to their older populations by means of a mix of both types of care. We subjected data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe COVID-19 period (SHARE-COVID-19) across 23 European countries (including Israel) to descriptive and cluster analyses. In the first wave of the outbreak, a significant proportion of older adults in European countries received informal help, with an increase in the frequency of informal help received from children, neighbors, friends, or colleagues and a decrease in that received from other relatives. In most countries, difficulties in receiving home care services from professional providers were reported. Seven clusters were identified, reflecting different combinations of changes in the formal/informal care provision. In most countries, informal care is more resilient than home care services that formal providers deliver. Since they are an essential source for sustainable care, their challenges related to care should be addressed. The impact of the pandemic does not follow the traditional characterization of welfare regimes. A clustering effort may yield more understanding of the priorities that future care policies should exhibit at the national level and may identify potential systems for policymakers to enhance sustainability of care for community-dwelling older adults.

Vaculíková, J. and M. Hanková (2021): Risk Factors Affecting Mental Health During the Early Stages Of The Covid-19 Pandemic In High-Risk 50+ Population In The Czech Republic.  Journal of Gerontological Social Work. DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1939219.

Abstract: This study deals with key factors affecting mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results are based on the longitudinal representative 50+ population-based multi-country panel study Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) in which representative samples of individuals in European countries plus Israel were collected. The goal is to turn the challenges of aging into opportunities as well as provide valid and reliable data for evidence-based policies. A total of 2,631 participants were interviewed by telephone in the Czech Republic during the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. After a descriptive analysis showed that participants complied well with most preventative and protective COVID-19 measures, subsequent modeling using logistic regression analysis and a decision tree algorithm identified key determinants that have contributed to an understanding of variation in declared feelings of depression. We found that nervousness, previously unexperienced trouble with sleep, and self-rated health status before the COVID-19 outbreak and gender remained significant predictors of depression, from which statistically significant different categories concerning the percentage of depression could be formed. These identified potential risk factors should be considered in planning further supportive strategies for high-risk 50+ population.

Van Winkle, Z., E. Ferragina and E. Recchi(2021): The Unexpected Decline in Feelings of Depression among Adults Ages 50 and Older in 11 European Countries amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 7: 1-11. DOI: 10.1177/23780231211032741.

Abstract: Findings on the mental health impact of the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Europe are mixed and lack a comparative and longitudinal perspective. The authors used the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe and fixed-effects regressions to estimate within-individual change in the probability to report feelings of depression between 2005 and 2017 and directly following the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 11 European countries for adults ages 50 and older. The authors found an unprecedented decline in feelings of depression between 2017 and 2020 in all countries that was larger than any previous observed change. The probability to report feelings of depression decreased by 14.5 percentage points on average, ranging from 7 to 19 percentage points in Spain and Switzerland, respectively. Moreover, there were no systematic within-country differences by socioeconomic characteristics, chronic health conditions, virus exposure, or change in activities. These findings challenge conventional wisdom about the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vergauwen, J., K. Delaruelle, P. Dykstra, P. Bracke and D. Mortelmans(2021): The COVID-19 Pandemic and Changes in the Level of Contact between Older Parents and their non-coresident Children: A European study. Journal of Family Research: 1–26. DOI: 10.20377/jfr-695.

Abstract: Objective: The present study aims to investigate changes in the frequency of parent-child contact among Europeans aged 65 years and over within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, while recognizing heterogeneity within the group of older adults. Background: Physical distancing measures have been implemented worldwide to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this policy has proven to be effective in flattening the curve, it undoubtedly posed a serious challenge to intergenerational relations. Experts hinted that physical distancing measures may have reduced older adults’ level of contact with their non-coresident children. However, empirical evidence is lacking. Method: Data from the SHARE COVID-19 questionnaire and previous SHARE waves for 26,077 individuals from 26 European countries and Israel were used and analyzed using multilevel multinomial logistic regression analysis. Results: The analysis revealed that older adults’ level of intergenerational contact remained stable or even increased – rather than decreased – during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the overall positive outcome, some subgroups (i.e., older men, residents of nursing homes, less educated older adults and older adults living in countries with less stringent COVID-19 measures) were more likely to report reduced intergenerational contact. Conclusion: Although variation was observed among older adults, the pandemic generally did not pose a threat to their level of intergenerational contact with non-coresident children.

Voss, G., A. F. Paiva and A. Delerue Matos(2021): A Study of the Association between the Stringency of Covid-19 Government Measures and Depression in Older Adults across Europe and Israel. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(15). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18158017.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is having major adverse consequences for the mental health of individuals worldwide. Alongside the direct impact of the virus on individuals, government responses to tackling its spread, such as quarantine, lockdown, and physical distancing measures, have been found to have a profound impact on mental health. This is manifested in an increased prevalence of anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. As older adults are more vulnerable and severely affected by the pandemic, they may be at increased psychological risk when seeking to protect themselves from COVID-19. Methods: Our study aims to quantify the association between the stringency of measures and increased feelings of sadness/depression in a sample of 31,819 Europeans and Israelis aged 65 and above. We hypothesize that more stringent measures make it more likely that individuals will report increased feelings of sadness or depression. Conclusions: We found that more stringent measures across countries in Europe and Israel affect the mental health of older individuals. The prevalence of increased feelings of sadness/depression was higher in Southern European countries, where the measures were more stringent. We therefore recommend paying particular attention to the possible effects of pandemic control measures on the mental health of older people.

Wang, H., A. Verdery, R. Margolis and E. Smith-Greenaway (2021): Bereavement from COVID-19, Gender, and Reports of Depression among Older Adults in Europe. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbab132.

Abstract: Objectives. The COVID-19 pandemic has left older adults around the world bereaved by the sudden death of relatives and friends. We examine if COVID-19 bereavement corresponds with older adults’ reporting depression in 27 countries, and test for variation by gender and country context. Methods. We analyze SHARE COVID-19 data collected between June-August 2020 from N=51,383 older adults (age 50–104) living in 27 countries, of whom 1,363 reported the death of a relative or friend from COVID-19. We estimate pooled-multilevel logit regression models to examine if COVID-19 bereavement was associated with self-reported depression and worsening depression, and we test whether national COVID-19 mortality rates moderate these assocations. Results. COVID-19 bereavement is associated with significantly higher probabilities of both reporting depression and reporting worsened depression among older adults. Net of one’s own personal loss, living in a country with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate is associated with women’s reports of worsened depression but not men’s. However, the country’s COVID-19 mortality rate does not moderate associations between COVID-19 bereavement and depression. Discussion. COVID-19 deaths have lingering mental health implications for surviving older adults. Even as the collective toll of the crisis is apparent, bereaved older adults are in particular need of mental health support.


Working Papers 

Airaksinen, J., K. Komulainen, M. Jokela and K. Gluschkoff (2021): Big Five Personality Traits and COVID-19 Precautionary Behaviors among Older Adults in Europe. PsyArXiv Preprints. DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/rvbjf.

Abstract: Objectives: Taking precaution against COVID-19 is important particularly among older adults who have a greater risk for severe illness if infected. We examined whether Big Five personality traits are associated with COVID-19 precautionary behaviors among older adults in Europe. Method: We used data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (N=34 801). Personality was self-reported in 2017 using the BFI-10 inventory. COVID-19 precautionary behaviors – wearing a mask, limiting social contacts, and keeping distance to others – were assessed in the summer of 2020 through self-reports. Associations between personality and precautionary behaviors were examined with multilevel random-intercept logistic regression models. The models were adjusted for age, gender, educational attainment, and country of residence. Results: Higher conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness were associated with a greater likelihood of wearing a face mask. Higher neuroticism was associated with a greater likelihood of limiting social contacts, and higher agreeableness with a lower likelihood of limiting social contacts. Higher conscientiousness was associated with a greater likelihood of keeping distance to others. The associations between personality and practicing precautionary behaviors were relatively weak. Discussion: Among older adults, taking COVID-19 precautionary behaviors was most consistently related to higher conscientiousness and neuroticism, suggesting that precautionary behaviors may be motivated by multiple psychological differences.

Arnault, L., F. Jusot and T. Renaud (2021): Social Inequalities in Access to Healthcare among the Population Aged 50+ years During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe. SHARE Working Paper Series 58-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3289765.

Abstract: This study investigated social inequalities in access to healthcare during the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic in Europe among adults aged 50 years and older, using data from the regular administration of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the specific telephone survey administered regarding COVID-19 (SHARE Corona Survey). It addressed three main research questions: did people who were in difficult economic situations before the epidemic face more barriers to access healthcare than others? If so, to what extent can these discrepancies be attributed to initial differences in health status and the use of care between social groups or to differential effects of the pandemic on these groups? Did social inequalities with regard to unmet needs during the pandemic differ across countries? Unmet healthcare needs are characterised by three types of behaviours likely to be induced by the pandemic: forgoing care for fear of contracting COVID-19, having pre-scheduled care postponed, and being unable to obtain medical appointments or treatments when needed. Our results substantiate the existence of social inequalities in accessing healthcare during the pandemic and of cumulative effects of economic and medical vulnerabilities: the impact of economic vulnerability is notably stronger among those who were in poor health before the outbreak and thus are potentially the oldest individuals. The cross-country comparison highlighted heterogeneous effects of economic vulnerability on forgoing care and having care postponed among countries, which are not comparable to the initial cross-country differences in social inequalities in access to healthcare.

Atzendorf, J. and S. Gruber (2021): The Mental Well-being of Older Adults after the First Wave of COVID-19. SHARE Working Paper Series 63-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3292887.

Abstract: Epidemic control measures that aim to introduce social distancing help to decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, their consequences in terms of mental well-being might be negative, especially for older adults. While existing studies mainly focus on the time during the first lockdown, we look at the weeks afterwards in order to measure the medium-term consequences of the first wave of the pandemic. Using data from the SHARE Corona Survey, we include retired respondents aged 60 and above from 26 European countries plus Israel. Combining SHARE data with macro data from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker allows us to include macro indicators at the country level, namely deaths per 100,000 population and the number of days with stringent epidemic control measures, in addition to individual characteristics. The findings show that both macro indicators are influential for increased feelings of sadness/depression, but that individual factors are crucial for explaining increased feelings of loneliness in the time after the first lockdown. Models with interaction terms reveal that the included macro indicators have negative well-being consequences, particularly for the oldest survey participants. Additionally, the results reveal that those living alone had a higher risk for worsened mental well-being in the time after the first COVID-19 wave.

Bassoli, E., A. Brugiavini and I. Ferrari (2021): Care Provision at the Time of the Covid-19: Who Suffers Most?. University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Dept. of Economics Research Paper Series 10/WP/2021. SSRN. New York. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3807762..

Abstract: This paper focuses on the changes in care provision at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak by exploiting variation in lockdown policies across Europe. We use the SHARE-COVID-19 survey, which involves about 50000 respondents of age 50 and over in 26 countries, to investigate how the stringency of the policy measures have affected care provision. Our study is based on the linkage of the SHARE-COVID-19 data with an individual specific “stringency index” which measures the intensity of the restriction policies and the degree of individual’s exposure. We find that older individuals, low-income individuals and people affected by limitations in everyday life faced a higher probability of receiving help because of the lockdown policies. Women and people in the age group 50-65 were more likely to provide help/care, but we also uncover a complex interaction with the labour market condition of caregivers. Lockdown policies hit hard individuals who were already receiving care as they experienced a form of rationing, both due to higher financial costs and travelling restrictions. Since these individuals are already among the most fragile.
 

Bergmann, M. and M. Wagner (2021): Caregiving and Care Receiving Across Europe in Times of COVID-19. SHARE Working Paper Series 59-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich.

Abstract: The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the European countries at the beginning of 2020. This has become particularly problematic for those in need for personal care as related epidemiological control measures (physical distancing, stay-at-home requirements etc.) installed in almost all European countries strongly affected the possibility to provide care to others as well as to receive care from people outside the own household. Against this background, this paper focus on how caregivers and care recipients living at home (the non-institutionalized) dealt with the situation using preliminary data from the 8th wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) until its suspension in March 2020 and the SHARE Corona Survey fielded from June to August 2020. Concretely, we analyzed the effects of the pandemic as well as accompanying public health measures on those giving as well as receiving personal care by exploring country differences on COVID-19-related changes. Our results show that giving personal care to parents has increased, while care to children, in turn, has decreased. Further, about one out of five care recipients had difficulties in obtaining personal care during the pandemic, which was mainly because carers could not come to the home of the care recipients. In addition, country differences played an important role in explaining perceived difficulties in receiving home care and hence are an important starting point for policy makers and social organizations.
 

Berniell I., A. Laferrère, P. Mira and E. Pronkina (2021): Robinson Crusoe: Less or More Depressed? With Whom and Where to Live in a Pandemic if you are above 50. SHARE Working Paper Series 70-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3333206

Abstract: This paper studies the differential impact of the first wave of the COVID pandemic on mental well-being across individuals with different living arrangements and housing conditions. We use data on Europeans aged 50+ interviewed in the SHARE Corona Survey, right after the first wave of the pandemic in June-July 2020, which we link longitudinally with two previous waves of SHARE (2013 and 2015). New to the pandemic period was the relatively lower mental well-being among those who lived only with a spouse and the protective impact for mental well-being of parents of having (adult) children in the same building as opposed to children, however close, who were not co-residing. Finally, living in cities and in multi-unit housing also led to a decrease in mental well-being relative to the general population aged 50+.

Bertoni, M., M. Celidoni, C. Dal Bianco and G.  Weber (2021): How did European Retirees Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic? SHARE Working Paper Series 61-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3291835.

Abstract: We investigate the role of retirement on the adoption of preventive behaviours and on mental health during the first wave of the pandemic. We address the endogeneity of the timing of retirement using variation in early retirement and old-age pension eligibility. We find that those who retired earlier responded to the pandemic by limiting their mobility more, and by adopting stricter preventive behaviours in public. These limitations did not hamper their mental health.

Bíró, A., R. Branyiczki and P. Elek (2021): Time Patterns of Precautionary Health Behaviours During an Easing Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe. SHARE Working Paper Series 57-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich.

Abstract: Using data from the COVID19 questionnaire of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we investigate the time patterns of precautionary health behaviours of individuals aged 50 and above during the summer of 2020, an easing phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. We also examine how these health behaviours differ by the presence of chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol level, heart disease, diabetes or chronic bronchitis, which can be considered as risk factors for COVID-19. Our results suggest that while on average, people became less precautious during our analysed time period, this is less so for those who are at higher risk. We also document large regional differences in precautionary health behaviours and show that higher risk individuals are on average more cautious in all regions. We conclude that people adjusted their health behaviours in line with the generally understood risk of the COVID-19 disease. At the same time, our results also point out divergences in the level of willingness to take different precautionary steps.

Brugiavini, A., R. E. Buia and I. Simonetti (2021): Occupation and Working Outcomes during the Coronavirus Pandemic. SHARE Working Paper Series 60-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3291840.

Abstract: Using data from the recent SHARE Corona Survey and additional information collected in the previous waves of SHARE, we explore the effects of occupation’s characteristics on two outcomes: (i) the probability of work interruptions during the pandemic, coupled with the length of such interruptions and (ii) the probability of switching to homeworking during the lockdown. In order to assess how job features affected the likelihood of having experienced work interruptions or shifted to teleworking, we define six occupation categories by classifying the ISCO job titles according to two criteria: the safety level of the occupation and the essential (unessential) nature of the good or service provided. We find that characteristics of the occupation are major determinants of the probability of experiencing work interruptions and determine the length of such interruptions.  Working from home also largely depends on the features of the job, even controlling for many other covariates at the individual level. In addition, we show that labour market outcomes of women, selfemployed and less educated workers are negatively affected by the pandemic to a much larger extent than men.

Dasgupta, S. and J. Emmerling (2021): COVID-19 Lockdown Led to an Unprecedented Increase in Inequality. Research Square (online first). DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-191155/v1.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected households across the globe due to the health impacts but also through indirect socioeconomic effects as a result of the additional stress on the health systems, implications of the lockdowns and other policy measures undertaken by governments. Moreover, there is evidence that these impacts are associated with socioeconomic characteristics of households and could lead to an increase in inequality and poverty. In this paper, we conduct a first assessment based on household surveys in a large set of countries and analyze the determinants of income shocks at the household-level and macroeconomic inequality implications. While the average income losses of on average 4% but up to 27% are already high (similar to GDP losses in 2020 of on average 6% in our sample), we find an even more striking increase in inequality, of up to several points (1.2 points on average) of the typically very flat Gini index. Across countries, we find that on average an additional one percentage point loss in GDP was associated with an increase in the Gini by one percentage point. Analyzing the determinants of the income shock, we find strong evidence of heterogeneity with higher likelihood of income shocks for poorer, female-led, and less-educated households. The results indicate that we are experiencing an unprecedented crisis also in terms of economic inequality. The policy response to limit the macroeconomic repercussions therefore should explicitly include reducing inequality. Otherwise, a rebuilt macro-economy, will exhibit a much higher degree of social and economic inequality that are likely to persist.

Delerue Matos, A., A. F. Paiva, C. Cunha and G. Voss (2021): Precautionary Behaviours of Individuals with Multimorbidity during the COVID-19 Pandemic. SHARE Working Paper Series 69-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3332949.

Abstract: Studies show that older individuals with multimorbidity are more susceptible to develop a more severe case of COVID-19 when infected by the virus. These individuals are more likely to be admitted to Intensive Care Units and to die from COVID-19 related conditions than younger individuals or those without multimorbidity. This research aimed to assess whether there are differences in terms of precautionary behaviours between individuals aged 50+ with multimorbidity and their counterparts without multimorbidity residing in 25 European countries plus Israel. We used data from the SHARE Corona Survey on the socio-demographic and economic characteristics, multimorbidity, and precautionary behaviours of individuals. SHARE wave 8 and 7 databases were also used to fully identify individuals with multimorbidity. Our results showed that individuals with multimorbidity were more likely to exhibit precautionary behaviours than their counterparts without multimorbidity when gender, age, education, financial distress and countries were included as controls. Additionally, we found that women, more educated individuals and those experiencing more financial distress adopt more protective behaviours than their counterparts. Our results also indicate that the prevalence of precautionary behaviours is higher in Southern Europe and lower in Northern countries. To guarantee the adoption of preventive actions against COVID-19, public health messaging and actions must continue to be disseminated among middle and older aged persons with multimorbidity, and more awareness campaigns should be targeted at men and less educated individuals but also at persons experiencing less financial distress, particularly in countries where people engaged in fewer precautionary behaviours.

Fors Connolly, F., J. Olofsson, G. Malmberg and M. Stattin (2021): Adjustment of Daily Activities to Restrictions and Reported Spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic across Europe. SHARE Working Paper Series 62-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3292885.

Abstract: This paper addresses adjustments of daily activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic among people aged 50 years and older in Europe, and investigates the extent to which such adjustments are associated with the stringency of governmental restrictions and the overall spread of COVID-19. We use data from the SHARE Corona Survey collected during summer 2020, published data on government response stringency, and reported country-specific prevalence and mortality of COVID-19. Our analyses show that older Europeans across the continent have reduced their daily activities quite substantially during the pandemic. However, we observe variation across countries and demographic groups, which may be important to highlight for policymakers. Our explanatory analysis replicates previous studies using mobility data, showing that both restrictions and infections predict a reduction in mobility. Thus, policymakers could potentially rely on both restrictions and voluntary adjustments in order to decrease the spread of the virus. However, it is noteworthy that we find relatively weaker associations with restrictions compared to previous studies using mobility data. One explanation for this discrepancy could be that our study focuses on older people, who face a higher risk of becoming severely ill and therefore have stronger incentives to adjust their behaviours independent of governmental regulations.

Pronkina, E.(2021): Long-lasting Impact of Education on Individual Extreme Confinement Choice among 50+ during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic. SHARE Working Paper Series 71-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3339651.

Abstract: This paper studies the long-run impact of education on individual strict confinement choice in Europe during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic among 50+. We do so by using the SHARE Corona Survey conducted in Summer 2020. First, we show that almost 20 percent of individuals chose always staying home during the first wave of Corona. On average, they were in worse health before the outbreak and more likely to experience mental health deterioration after the outbreak. Next, using changes in compulsory schooling reforms as an instrumental variable, we document that one year less of schooling increases the probability of always staying home since the outbreak. Mediators such as individual health before the outbreak can only partially explain the impact of schooling on this extreme degree of self-isolation. Changes in country specific confinement measures do not attenuate this effect.

Sand, G. and J. Bristle(2021): The Relationship of Threat Perceptions and Optimistic Attitude with Protective Behavior in the COVID-19 Crisis. SHARE Working Paper Series 64-2021. Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA). Munich. DOI: 10.17617/2.3309027.

Abstract: Mortality in the COVID-19 crisis is highest among older adults and other vulnerable groups. Based on Protection Motivation Theory and using data from the first SHARE Corona Survey, we investigate how threat perceptions and optimistic attitudes are associated with motivation to engage in protective behavior in the population 50+. Multivariate regression analyses are based on a sample of more than 30,000 individuals from 26 countries. Our results show that around 15 percent of all respondents stayed home completely during the initial phase of the COVID-19 crisis—mainly the elderly aged and those with prior health risk conditions. On average, older Europeans responded strongly to the recommended protective behavior measures (6 out of 7 measures adopted). While feeling more anxious than before Corona and fear of infection are the main motivators for protective behavior, an optimistic outlook into the future shows an equally strong association with protective behavior. Optimistic attitudes are the strongest predictor in the Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg, and Sweden—all countries with high levels of trust in their health care systems. In contrast, fear is the strongest predictor in Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Poland—all countries with below average mortality rates. We further hypothesize that the influence of threat appraisal and optimistic attitudes vary based on contextual severity of and perceived institutional protection against COVID-19 (measured as COVID-19 mortality, stringency of control measures, and trust in the health care system). We find that the influence of personal exposure varies and can be observed mainly in country groups with high COVID-19 mortality, medium stringency, and high trust in the health care system. Against the background of negative, long-term health effects of fear and the situation of a long-term crisis, the results of this study may help evaluate and revise governmental policy responses and communication strategies.

Wang, H., A. Verdery, R. Margolis and E. Smith-Greenaway(2021): Bereavement from COVID-19 and Depressive Symptoms among Older Adults in Europe. SocArXiv Papers. DOI: 10.31235/osf.io/tzm9n.

Abstract: Objectives. The COVID-19 pandemic has left older adults around the world grieving the sudden death of relatives and friends. We examineifCOVID-19 bereavement corresponds with older adults’ depressive symptoms in 27 countries, and test for variation by gender and country context. Methods. We analyze SHARE COVID-19 data collected between June-August 2020 from N=51,383older adults (age 50–104) living in 27 countries, of whom1,363reportedthe death of a relative or friend from COVID-19. We estimate pooled-multilevel logistic regression models to examine if COVID-19 bereavement was associated with depressive symptoms and worsening depressive symptoms, and we test whether the COVID-19 mortality rate in their country has an additive or multiplicative influence. Results. COVID-19 bereavement is associated with significantly higher odds of reporting depressive symptoms, and reporting that these symptoms have recently worsened. Net of personal loss, living in a country with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate is associated with women’s depressive symptoms but not men’s. However, the COVID-19 mortality rate does not moderate the implications of personal loss for depressive symptoms. Discussion. COVID-19 deaths have lingering mental health implications for surviving older adults. Even as the collective toll of the crisis is apparent, bereaved older adults are in particular need of mental health support.


Other

Koroleva, I., I. Reine and A. Aleksandrovs(2021):Изменения межличностной коммуникации в период пандемии COVID-19 и роль цифровых технологий в снижении социальной изоляции среди пожилых людей: пример Латвии. (Changes in Interpersonal Communication during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Role of ICT in Reducing the Social Isolation in Elderly Population: An Example of Latvia.). Belarusian State University Digital Library. Minsk.

Abstract: The epidemiological restrictions introduced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are aimed at stimulating social distancing and limiting personal social contact. This exposes older people, who, even in non-crisis situations, have a narrower circle and frequency of social contacts with age, to an even greater risk of loneliness and social isolation. Modern digital technologies help to maintain social activity in these conditions. The pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of people of virtually all generations, spreading across all areas of daily life. But if young people, already surrounded by digital technologies from birth, received a variety of support, including government support, the elderly, and especially the oldest and those who are not employed in the labor market, went unnoticed. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new risks of inequality in the emotional and social well-being of older people, namely: inequality in access to modern technologies and their use, which depends not only on age, but also on education, employment and place of residence. The analysis of changes in interpersonal communication during a pandemic and the availability of digital technologies to overcome social exclusion in old age is based on empirical data from the 8th wave of the international longitudinal "Research on health, aging and retirement in Europe" (The Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe [SHARE], Wave 8).

Koroļeva, I., S. Snikere, A. Aleksandrovs, I. Reine, M. Trapencieris and A. Ivanovs (2021): Effects of Social Isolation on Mental Health during COVID-19 in the Context of Ageing. Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference VI.SIE. Rēzekne.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant changes to the usual rhythm of life. Reduced opportunities to meet with family members and friends in a situation of heightened stress leads to increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation, as well as increases the risk of mental health problems. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effect of social contacts on the changes in psychoemotional states in the elderly population in Latvia during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis draws upon quantitative data collected by the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe within Wave 8 in Latvia (n=1207). Measurements of the frequency of social contacts were used to construct social isolation indexes. Changes of psychoemotional state, characterized by sleeping problems, nervousness, frustration during the pandemic were included as dependent variables in multinomial logistic regression models that were run to identify the effect of social isolation on psychoemotional health in the context of other factors: age, gender, perceived health status, affluence and feelings of loneliness. The results show that in the group of those aged 50+, close to one-fifth of respondents experienced the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on their mental health. The link between reduced social contacts and changes in psychoemotional states proved to be statistically significant. In the group with the highest level of social isolation, irregularities in psychoemotional health are three times higher compared to other groups.

(last Update 22. September; 2021)