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Religion, social interactions, and COVID-19 incidence in Western Germany

Laliotis, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-8206-044X & Minos, D. (2022). Religion, social interactions, and COVID-19 incidence in Western Germany. European Economic Review, 141, article number 103992. doi: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2021.103992


This paper investigates how social interactions, as shaped by religious denomination, are related to COVID-19 incidence and associated mortality in Western Germany. We observe that the number of infections and deaths during the early pandemic phase were much higher in predominantly Catholic counties with arguably stronger family and social ties. The relationship was confirmed at the county level through numerous robustness checks, and after controlling for a series of characteristics and county fixed effects. At the individual level, we confirmed that Catholics, relative to non-Catholics, have tighter and more frequent interactions with their family and friends. Moreover, the intensity of social interaction was able to partially explain the relationship between COVID-19 incidence and share of Catholics at the county level. Our results highlight the number of dimensions that have to be taken into account when designing and implementing mitigation measures in the early stages of disease outbreaks.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.
Publisher Keywords: COVID-19, Religion, Mortality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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