Descriptive Work on Covid-19

The gender gap in mental well-being at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK, with Ben Etheridge, European Economic Review, 145: 104114. Download paper

We document a decline in mental well-being after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. This decline is more than twice as large for women as for men. We seek to explain this gender gap by exploring gender differences in: family and caring responsibilities; financial and work situation; social engagement; health situation, and health behaviours, including exercise. We discuss two dimensions of gender differences, the extent to which particular circumstances relate to well-being and the share of individuals facing a given circumstance. Overall, we find that differences in family and caring responsibilities can explain a part of the gender gap, but the bulk is explained by social factors such as loneliness. Other factors such as financial difficulties or age are similarly distributed across genders and thus play little role in explaining the gap.

Microfinance loan officers before and during Covid-19: Evidence from India, with Kristina Czura, Florian Englmaier & Hoa Ho. World Development (2022), 152: 105812. Download paper

The Microfinance industry has been severely affected by Covid-19. We provide detailed insights into how loan officers, the key personnel linking the lender to its borrowers, are affected in their performance and adapt their work to the pandemic. We use administrative records of an Indian Microfinance Institution and detailed panel survey data on performance, performed tasks, and work organization to document how the work environment became more challenging during the pandemic. Loan officers operate in a setting where work from home is hard to implement due to the nature of the tasks and technological constraints. The usual performance indicators appear to be mainly driven by external factors such as the nation-wide debt moratorium. Loan officers worked similar hours, but engaged less in planning activities and completed fewer of the usual tasks. Work perceptions and mental health of loan officers reflect these changes, and perceived stress was particularly high during the period of the debt moratorium.