Corona restrictions divide old and young

The easing plans in Thuringia are arousing feelings. A recent survey shows that young people especially reject occupational restrictions – while the measures hit another group particularly hard economically.

Emergency: Employees in the travel industry cannot work

Dhis data provide fresh impetus in the debate about the economic consequences of the state’s corona measures as well as the extent and speed of the easing: According to a recent survey, around every second German thinks it is appropriate for the state to take measures to protect health, even if this is associated with considerable consequences. However, when it comes to future pandemics, three quarters of all respondents would like the economic consequences of such restrictions to be given greater consideration and politicians to be publicly accountable.

It also shows that the assessment of the pandemic measures shows a rift through the generations. Young people rate them more critically than older people. Low-wage earners are also disproportionately affected by the fight against the pandemic. On the other hand, there is no evidence that women feel more affected by the consequences of the crisis than men. There are also no major regional differences within Germany.

“When it comes to dealing with future crises, citizens expect the government to give more comprehensive consideration to the economic consequences of health protection measures before economic life is actually restricted,” summarizes Matthias Fifka from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the results of the representative survey carried out by the FAZ available in advance. More than 1000 people were interviewed in mid-May.

Personal concern plays a major role in the acceptance of the economic restrictions. The closure of shops, hotels and restaurants has met with a high level of approval.

Low wage earners critical of short-time work

This does not apply to the ban on going to one’s own workplace. Less than half of the respondents consider the workplace ban to be a suitable instrument, and neither does the closure of cross-border commuting.

For almost two thirds, on the other hand, unrestricted freedom of occupation is important or very important. “It shows that people put their own professional interests above those of their fellow human beings,” says economist Fifka.

Considerable differences become clear when looking at the different age cohorts. In the group of 60 to 75-year-olds, more than half attach greater importance to the protection of health than to the right to work. This only applies to every third person among 16 to 29 year olds. The differences for the restricted freedom of travel are even greater. Two thirds of people close to retirement age or retired welcome the forced closure of shops, but only 45 percent of people under 50.

Fifka is therefore skeptical that future pandemics will succeed in reconciling the different interests of the generations: “Solidarity in our society across age groups is an illusion.”

The survey suggests that the acceptance of government measures is strongly related to the personal financial situation. While three quarters of all households with a monthly income of more than 3,000 euros agree, only two thirds of those below this mark agree.

Low-wage earners see the state far less often than the rest of them having the right to forcibly close shops, hotels and restaurants. People with middle and high incomes are also much more likely to favor the use of short-time work (73 percent) than those with lower incomes (64 percent) .

The use of short-time work is associated with noticeable loss of wages, especially in the low-wage sector, while higher-income skilled workers often receive part of the gap between the state short-time work allowance and the actual net salary voluntarily compensated by their employer. Fifka therefore recommends that you consider increasing the short-time work allowance for low-wage earners more than for other groups.

Many people expected that economic consequences will be given greater consideration in the future. This shows that they immediately felt negatively affected in economic terms. “That in turn suggests a rapid and systematic easing, at least as long as there are no sharply increasing health risks.” Politicians must admit that it will not be possible to protect health indefinitely. The protection of life does not have top priority for all groups, says the scientist, “they too must be heard in the political process”.