Mannheim Corona Study

The Mannheim Corona Study is part of the German Internet Panel (GIP) and was in field during the first COVID-19 lockdown in Germany, from 20 March until 9 July, with weekly surveys of the German population. Since then, we continue to survey pandemic-related questions in the bimonthly GIP-survey. My research in this context focuses on employment and care. Based on our early results, we provided weekly consulting and reports for the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.  Several journal articles and reports have already been published with data of the Mannheim Corona Study. Ongoing research includes analyses of inequality in employment trajectories, in homeworking, subjective well-being, and attitudes. Our work was covered, e.g. in Spiegel Online, ARD Morgenmagazin, and Süddeutsche Zeitung.


Integration of Migrants and Attitudes Towards the Welfare State (IMES)

The multidisciplinary project at the interface of economics, sociology and political science brings together the competences of different scientific institutions located in Mannheim, with a close cooperation of the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES). The junior research group is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Network for Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research, and is accompanied by a scientific advisory board of national and international experts.

Against the background of the strong immigration to Germany, the role of the welfare state and its legitimacy have been the subject of heated debates over the last years. On the one hand, social policy helps integrate migrants into the labour market and the society and thus contributes to the stabilization of the social security systems. On the other hand, migration can undermine the legitimacy of the welfare state if the local population is hostile towards a redistribution in favour of migrants and worried about a higher financial burden due to the costs of immigration.

The research group therefore analyses the following questions: (1) How do social policy and new immigration waves shape the integration of migrants who have already arrived? (2) How does the perceived integration of migrants change the attitudes towards the welfare state? (3) How do the perceived and the actual integration interact in different social policy areas? The project goes beyond existing research by differentiating between different groups of migrants and local people and by considering multiple dimensions of integration. We combine the analysis of representative micro data sets with experimental survey designs. Based on these results, we develop scientifically sound and practicable recommendations for a sustainable social policy in Germany that is able to provide security for communities in need of protection and to offer new opportunities without jeopardising its own acceptance.


Attitudes towards quotas for leadership positions and in recruitment processes

This research project analyses citizens’ attitudes towards the use of quotas for under-represented groups in positions of leadership and recruitment. So far, two articles have been published showing polarization of public opinion on the introduction of such a gender quota for company boards in Europe and Germany.

The comparative article focuses on contextual determinants of citizens’ support for these policies. Obligatory gender quotas can be regarded as affirmative action policies. Previous research on support for these policies has mainly focused on the USA and the analysis of individual-level factors. We address this research gap with a cross-national comparative study of how factors related to political institutions and social structure shape citizens’ support for gender quotas. Our results show that citizens’ opposition to the introduction of a gender boardroom quota is largest in countries with a relatively high level of gender equality in politics and the economy, such as in Scandinavian countries.

For the article on Germany, I designed a questionnaire module for the German Internet Panel that on support for gender quotas. We find that opposition to the gender quota is greatest among those who are disregarded by the regulation or might see their prospective labour market chances to be threatened. This research has been covered in the LSE social policy blog and the DVPW blog.


Welfare State Reform Support from Below: Linking Individual Attitudes and Organised Interests in Europe

The project is part of the Mannheim Special Research Unit SFB 884 “Political Economy of Reforms” and combines the analyses of citizens’ attitudes and of the positions of corporate actors (trade unions and employers’ organizations) in major fields of social policy from a comparative perspective. In the third funding phase (2018-2021), the project expanded the research focus with the inclusion of the policy fields family and gender equality, and integrated Twitter analyses for identifying the positioning of interest organizations.

Public opinion and “vested” organized interests are seen as major obstacles to changing the status quo of welfare state policies. Radical or far-reaching reforms of welfare states are politically risky for governments, as they have to fear electoral backlash and opposition from influential interest groups. The project examines the positioning of non-governmental actors and public opinion in social policy as well as the impact of reforms on individual attitudes and collective interest strategies in selected social policy fields (pension, healthcare, labour market, and family policies). By applying a comparative approach, it analyses different institutional welfare state settings and interest intermediation systems in order to show the impact of varying contexts on the political economy of welfare state reform.


Life course and retirement income of women in couple and household context

The project was funded by the Research Network on Pensions (FNA) from 2017 to 2019.

Existing research on the relationship between life course and retirement income is usually based on either an individual or a household perspective. This has led to very different assessments of women’s income situation in old age, since for women in particular exists a significant gap between household and personal incomes. The project combines both perspectives on the relationship of life course and later life income using data of SHARE-RV, which integrates administrative records of the German public pension insurance with the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Several journal articles with project results have been published, three manuscripts are under review, including one methodological paper comparing the quality of life history information from survey data and administrative records. The final project report is online here (in German).

I continue working on related topics, including analyses of gender inequality in employment, child and elderly care during the Corona pandemic using data of the German Internet Panel (GIP) and the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP). In cooperation with the German Centre of Gerontology (DZA), I conduct a study on the wellbeing of family caregivers during the pandemic.

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