July 2020

IZA DP No. 13493: Work-Related and Personal Predictors of COVID-19 Transmission

Paul Anand, Heidi Allen, Robert Ferrer, Natalie Gold, Rolando Gonzales Martinez, Evan Kontopantelis, Melanie Krause, Francis Vergunst

The paper provides new evidence from a survey of 2000 individuals in the US and UK related to predictors of Covid-19 transmission. Specifically, it investigates work and personal predictors of transmission experience reported by respondents using regression models to better understand possible transmission pathways and mechanisms in the community. Three themes emerge from the analysis. Firstly, transport roles and travelling practices are significant predictors of infection. Secondly, evidence from the US especially shows union membership, consultation over safety measures and the need to use public transport to get to work are also significant predictors. This is interpreted as evidence of the role of deprivation and of reactive workplace consultations. Thirdly and finally, there is some, often weaker, evidence that income, car-owership, use of a shared kitchen, university degree type, riskaversion, extraversion and height are predictors of transmission. The comparative nature of the evidence indicates that the less uniformly stringent nature of the US lockdown provides more information about both structural and individual factors that predict transmission. The evidence about height is discussed in the context of the aerosol transmission debate. The paper concludes that both structural and individual factors must be taken into account when predicting transmission or designing effective public health measures and messages to prevent or contain transmission.