DP14871 My Home Is My Castle -- The Benefits of Working from Home During a Pandemic Crisis: Evidence from Germany

Author(s): Jean-Victor Alipour, Harald Fadinger, Jan Schymik
Publication Date: June 2020
Date Revised: July 2020
Keyword(s): BIBB-BAuA, COVID-19, infections, labor supply shock, mitigation, SARS-CoV-2, Working from Home
JEL(s): H12, I18, J22, J68, R12, R23
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics, International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14871

This paper studies the relation between work and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. Combining administrative data on SARS-CoV-2 infections and short-time work registrations, firm- and worker-level surveys and cell phone tracking data on mobility patterns, we find that working from home (WFH) is very effective in economic and public health terms. WFH effectively shields workers from short-time work, firms from COVID-19 distress and substantially reduces infection risks. Counties whose occupation structure allows for a larger fraction of work to be done from home experienced (i) much fewer short-time work registrations and (ii) less SARS-CoV-2 cases. Health benefits of WFH appeared mostly in the early stage of the pandemic and became smaller once tight confinement rules were implemented. Before confinement, mobility levels were lower in counties with more WFH jobs and counties experienced a convergence in traffic levels once confinement was in place.