Research in the time of COVID-19

Under the heading “Research in the time of Covid-19” we publish a range of blogs connecting our evidence, thoughts, new ideas, hopes and fears to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for society, social research, labour markets, social and health policies.

The End of “Active Ageing”?


The concept and policy framework for active ageing turns twenty next year. Will this anniversary be an occasion to celebrate the achievements of international actions on ageing? Or will it become just another occasion to reflect on “uneven progress” in advancing towards a society for all ages – a goal set also twenty years ago by the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing? Alexandre Sidorenko, Senior Adviser at the European Centre, argues that, as of today, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the latter scenario seems the most plausible.


Enhancing the collection and analysis of national data on intra-EU posting


Posting.Stat brings together a consortium of universities and research centres from 10 different Member Statesto promote the evidence basis through the collection and analysis of national micro-data. The geographical scope of the project covers the six main ‘sending’ Member States (Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain, Slovenia and Luxembourg) and the six main ‘receiving’ Member States (Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) of posted workers. Extracting administrative micro-data from the competent public authorities, complemented by desk research as well as by expert interviews, should result in more accurate figures on the scale, characteristics and impact of intra-EU posting, both in the main receiving and sending Member States.


Socioeconomic condition of informal carers during the COVID-19 pandemic


Due to the challenge of combining care responsibilities with employment, informal carers are often vulnerable to reducing their labour market attachment, or leaving the job market entirely, and subsequently sacrificing income. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting employment cuts, informal carers may have been particularly vulnerable to deterioration in their socioeconomic situation.


Covid-19 and alcohol


Covid-19 has had and will continue to have, at least for the time being, a huge impact on many aspects of life. We are continuously being confronted with the negative consequences of the pandemic for our economy, welfare, mobility, health systems, social life, public health, mental health etc. In view of the significant negative influence which alcohol consumption has on public health and social welfare, we briefly review the relationship between Covid-19, alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.


Apprenticeships: a public option


Apprenticeships raise the labour-market entry level for young people—but they need to be available in bad times as well as good.


The impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities across Europe


The Coronavirus outbreak still presents a major challenge at national and local levels across the EU and beyond. Persons with disabilities are among the most affected groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) recently reported that the pandemic continues to affect the provision of essential services such as education, healthcare, community-based support and transport for persons with disabilities. Children with disabilities are facing particular barriers when it comes to accessing education and support, including challenges to take part in distance learning, without their assistants. In some countries, FRA noted that physical, occupational, speech and language therapy services for children with disabilities were suspended (e.g. in Malta) (FRA, 2020).


Unnecessary victims: Older persons in the COVID-19 pandemic


At first glance, there is a solid ground for singling out older people during the current pandemic as a special group: the mortality related to COVID-19 is increasing with the age and for those 80 and above years old it is five times the global average based on WHO data. About 95 per cent of those who have died from COVID-19 in Europe were over 60 years, and more than half of them were over 80 years. This tragic statistics has prompted governments to focus their anti-epidemic measures on older persons by often demanding their self-isolation for the period beyond the terms set for younger population.


The impact of COVID-19 on the posting of workers and their workplace safety


The posting of workers describes a process by which companies and temporary work agencies send employees from one EU Member State to another to provide a service in that country for a specific period of time based on dedicated EU Directives. Meanwhile, posted employees remain covered by and pay contributions to the social security institutions of their home country.


Healthy surveillance - happy data sharing!


Readers of this essay are invited to a quiz: try to spot the difference between reality and dystopia!

“Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to this meeting that we are starting today with a new ritual. As you know, registration with the COVID-19 app is a prerequisite for attending this meeting. Now I ask you for the corresponding ‘electronic handshake’. At the same time, I have to inform you that you are obliged to report immediately if you receive a health warning during our session. In this case the session will be terminated.”


Policing the healthy and the unhealthy


Research projects at the European Centre demonstrate the significance of inter-disciplinary thinking particularly in times of the worldwide Covid-19 crisis. In fact, what is currently designated as a “health crisis” expands beyond medicine and calls for expertise in several other disciplines of the scientific arena such as economics, political science, legal studies, information technology, sociology and philosophy. Hence, expertise in health economics, social welfare politics, law enforcement, technology assessment and ethics is needed to gauge the social consequences in this situation. In the following contribution, I would like to present findings from European Centre’s research together with fresh ideas to underline this inter-disciplinary approach.


Dismantling health and social care systems kills


Research carried out by the European Centre had already shown pervasive inequalities in access to care as well as in the coverage of health insurance and potential remedies. The Covid-19 crisis brings the evidence to the headlines of the news that social inequalities and the dismantling of health and social welfare systems are killing people. The current crisis also shows that health and social care are not a ‘product’ which can be produced low-cost and provided to those with sufficiently large incomes only.