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The long shadow of an infection: COVID-19 and performance at work

Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

This study by the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics estimates the workplace productivity effects of COVID-19 by studying performance of soccer players after an infection.

  • Disziplin: Wirtschaft
  • Forschungsmethode: Quantitativ
  • Forschungsdesign: Sekundäranalyse, Weitere Daten (z. B. Einzelinterview, Web Scraping, Laborwerte etc.)
  • Erhebungsstatus: Erhebung abgeschlossen, Ergebnisse veröffentlicht, Daten zugänglich

Ziele der Studie

The paper sheds light on the question which impact an infection on individual labor output after recovering from the actual sickness has. Obviously, the work also corresponds to medical research addressing the health effects of COVID-19 infections which shape performance changes.


The present paper sheds light on this question by investigating quasi-weekly productivity of high-performance workers up to fifteen months post-infection. The researchers apply a difference-in-differences framework on a natural experiment among professional soccer players. Making use of a uniquely accurate testing scheme and employing high-frequency performance data, they find causal evidence for a significant and persistent deterioration in worker productivity due to COVID-19. Our work adds to the economic analysis of events related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They analyze an occupation with comparatively low confounding of individual productivity as capital and technology are hardly driving forces of output in soccer. Productivity can rather be considered as a function of various health aspects; mainly physical measures, for example acceleration, condition, and endurance, but also the cognitive capability to position oneself optimally on the pitch. The number of passes is related to all of these measures, which is they base their analysis on this parameter.


Injury data obtained from transfermarkt.de, the largest database on soccer players globally. Freely accessible via the following link: https://www.transfermarkt.de/bundesliga/verletztespieler/wettbewerb/L1