Coronavirus and its Societal Impact - Highlights from WZB Research

The coronavirus is changing the lives of individuals and the coexistence of the many. Social distance is regarded as the highest civic duty. Solidarity is demanded of the fit and young in order to protect the weak and elderly. While we are witnessing unprecedented executive power at a national level, the EU’s powerlessness within Europe is becoming painfully apparent.

How profound and lasting are these developments? Will this crisis change our societies for good? Social scientific research has yet to give conclusive answers to these questions.

In the coming weeks, WZB researchers will regularly present their analyses, considerations and hypotheses here. The pandemic is not just a challenge for the natural sciences. It affects all of society.

Please note that some of the content here is currently available in German only.

All published articles in this series are listed on EconStor.

Wecker Terminsuche
BrianAJackson/Creative #:/iStock / Getty Images Plus

28 January 2021

Appointments for vaccinations – restoring fairness and avoiding black markets


Booking an appointment for a Covid vaccination is tedious und like getting a ticket for the Olympic Games or  a Lady Gaga concert, Those who currently hunt for appointments are 80 years and older. Rustamdjan Hakimov and Dorothea Kübler on restoring fairness and avoiding black markets. 

By Dorothea Kübler and Rustamdjan Hakimov

Egoistischer Affe
Tapsiful / iStock / Getty Images Plus
14 December 2020

What Behavioural Economics must learn from the coronavirus crisis


The pandemic has revealed deficiencies of human rationality repeatedly pointed out by behavioural economists. And yet, the discipline must learn from the pandemic. The altruism it propagates has serious limitations that need reexamining.

By Steffen Huck


Lateinamerika Covid
Tarik Kizilkaya / E+ / Getty Images
13. September 2020

Innovations against the Pandemic

While some Latin American countries remain in the middle of the pandemic and their governments have been either unable or unwilling to do anything about it, civil society has begun to initiate a considerable number of digital democratic innovations. 

By Thamy Pogrebinschi

Aktienskurs und Coronavius
wildpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus
7 May 2020

The Political Consequences of Crisis

What to expect from the political fallout of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? Three lessons learned from the Great Recession hit Europe in 2008.

By Swen Hutter, Endre Borbáth, Sophia Hunger

Light at the end of the tunnel
fcscafeine / iStock / Getty Images Plus
28 April 2020

Seeing Both Sides of the Coronavirus Crisis

The pandemic's impact is often said to be overall negative. But how about the positive side-effects of COVID-19?

By Jianghong Li

Alexyz3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus
27 April 2020

How Scarcity Affects Your Cognitive Functioning

Beyond the many choices and challenges humans face during the pandemic lies a constant cognitive trade-off: Those who excessively absorb news against uncertainty run the risk of impaired cognitive functions.

By Agne Kajackaite

Markus Spiske / Unsplash
23 April 2020

COVID-19 and the Value of Work

The pandemic has revealed what kind of work deserves to be called “systemically important”. Yet, as Robert Koepp argues, the struggle over labor conditions has only just begun.

By Robert Koepp

Kette aus Büroklammern
Jackson Simmer / Unsplash
17 April 2020

Can coronavirus trigger a sound economic order? Scepticism is advisable.

By Florian Butollo

Corona-Reihe Foto Humphrey Lechowski
IDS ( / Ausserhofer
17 April 2020

How the complex value-chain structures in European manufacturing sectors will absorb the wave of economic disruption

By John Humphrey and Grzegorz Lechowski

Victor Orban fighting coronavirus
Tiburi (Pixabay)
15 April 2020


The fight against Covid-19 as a political opportunity: How rising authoritarianism in crisis hit Hungary.

By Endre Borbáth


Insights from further sources

BSE Insights on the Corona Crisis - Berlin School of Economics Blog

Tonspur Wissen - Corona-Fragen - Leibniz-Gemeinschaft Podcast [in German]

Frankfurter interdisziplinäre Debatte zur Corona-Krise [in German]

Delete Taste
CHUYN / iStock / Getty Images Plus
15 April 2020

COVID-19 and the Future of Content Moderation


The coronavirus crisis is disrupting the functioning of content moderation, causing the loss of thousands of jobs in an overlooked profession.

Frau vor Anzeigetafel am Flughafen
martin-dm / E+ Getty Images
14 April 2020

The WHO's Structural Problem

In the current coronavirus pandemic, the WHO must gather facts and formulate policy recommendations. However, the interlacing of both tasks within one organization is problematic.

By Mira Fischer

Stethoskop auf Miniglobus
iStock / Getty Images Plus
14 April 2020

The WHO's Paradoxical Mandate

Outside times of crisis, the WHO's voice is seldomly heeded. Its socio-political initiatives are regularly shot down, its actions reduced to policing illness. That is a mistake.

By Tine Hanrieder

Zwei Ärzte operieren
Olga Guryanova / unsplash
6 April 2020

The ugly face of health politics – COVID-19 and the hypocrisy of the ‘saving lives’ metaphor


The lack of medical resources is a cause for concern. Yet scarcity is health policy's fundamental condition.

By Anna Holzscheiter, published on the WZB blog Orders Beyond Borders.

Flugzeug mit Banner "Stay at home"
Amelie und Niklas Ohlrogge, unsplash
4 April 2020

The Cosmopolitan Virus – Covid-19 Does Not Strike Randomly


Highly mobile world citizens were among the first to be infected. Meanwhile, the virus affects everyone - yet not everybody is affected equally.

By Ruud Koopmans

Öffentlicher Platz wird überwacht
iStock / Getty Images / Peter Howell
2 April 2020

Digital Tracking as a Political Program


Even in exceptional times, surveillance remains a political program rather than an imminent force.

By Jeanette Hofmann

Bundestag Kuppel
Ricardo Gomez Angel/
1 April 2020

Who is the sovereign?


Fundamental rights are being restricted to combat the pandemic. Can we question these measures' appropriateness?

By Wolfgang Merkel

The remainder is taken from the original article series currently only available in German.

9 April 2020

Die COVID-19-Krise nutzen: Es ist Zeit für eine Arbeitsversicherung


Deutschland tut viel, um die wirtschaftlichen COVID-19-Folgen abzufedern, aber es braucht nachhaltige Lösungen für die Zeit nach der Krise.

By Günther Schmid und Wolfgang Schroeder

Empty Shelves
Claudio Schwarz/
8 April 2020

Leere Regale durch Bilder leerer Regale


In der Corona-Krise sind neue Verhaltensweisen in der Gesellschaft wichtig. Soziale Normen können je nach Ausprägung die Umsetzung behindern oder unterstützen.

By Hande Erkut, Steffen Huck und Johannes Leutgeb

Angehörige des Dt. Bundestages mit zwei Stühlen Abstand
picture alliance / SZ Photo / Jens Schicke
7 April 2020

C-Virus und E-Parlament - In der Krise muss Politik digital ergänzt werden


Es braucht intelligente Digitalisierung, damit eine Demokratie in der Pandemie handlungsfähig bleiben kann.

By Bernhard Weßels and Wolfgang Schroeder.

Lily Banse/
3 April 2020

Globalisierung nach Corona: Zurück in die Zukunft?


Krisen können historische Weichenstellungen bedeuten. Ob auch die Corona-Krise eine solche Zäsur bedeutet, muss sich erst noch zeigen.

By Michael Zürn

Markus Spiske on
31 March 2020

Alt gegen Jung

In der Klima- wie in der Corona-Krise geht es im Kern um Fragen der Generationengerechtigkeit.

By Dorothea Kübler

Ausbilder und Lehrling
South_agency/E+/getty images
30 March 2020

Vergesst die Auszubildenden nicht!

Es wird zurzeit viel über Schulschließungen, Abi-Prüfungen und Studierende im Digitalmodus gesprochen – wenig hört man zur Situation von Auszubildenden. 

By Heike Solga

Getty Images / traveler1116
27 March 2020

Das Seerosenrätsel in Zeiten von Corona


Zum Auftakt unserer neuen Reihe erklärt Ökonom Steffen Huck, warum Entscheider Wachstumskurven verstehen müssen.

By Steffen Huck