Twenty Determinants of Individuals' Objective and Subjective Financial Fragility during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc around the world, disrupting financial markets and inflicting economic damage due to health restrictions. The pandemic's origin as a health shock makes it fundamentally different from previous crises, in particular for households.
In this paper in the Journal of Banking and Finance, Arvid Hoffmann (University of Adelaide), Marie-Hélène Broihanne, Daria Plotkia (both University of Strasbourg), Anja Göritz (University of Augsburg) and I examine determinants of the objective and subjective financial fragility of 2,100 individuals across Australia, France, Germany, and South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Objective financial fragility reflects individuals' (in)ability to deal with unexpected expnses, while subjective financial fragility reflects their emotional response to financial demands.
Controlling for an extensive set of socio-demographics, we find that negative personal experiences during the pandemic (i.e., reduced or lost employment; COVID-19 infection) are associated with higher objective and subjective financial fragility. However, individuals’ cognitive (i.e., financial literacy) as well as non-cognitive abilities (i.e., internal locus of control; psychological resilience) help to counteract this higher financial fragility. Finally, we examine the role of government financial support (i.e., income support; debt relief) and find that it is negatively related to financial fragility only for the economically weakest. Our results have implications for public policymakers, giving them levers for reducing individuals’ objective and subjective financial fragility.
Exporting Pollution: Where Do Multinational Firms Emit CO2?
Despite awareness of the detrimental impact of CO2 pollution on the world climate, countries vary widely in how they design and enforce environmental laws.
In this paper in Economic Policy (2021), Itzhak Ben-David (Ohio State University & NBER), Yeejin Jang (University of New South Wales), Michael Viehs (Federated Hermes International) and I explore how firms respond to environmental regulation.
Using novel microdata about multinational firms' CO2 emissions across countries, we document that firms headquartered in countries with strict environmental policies perform their polluting activities abroad in countries with relatively weaker policies. These effects are largely driven by tightened environmental policies in home countries that incentivize firms to pollute abroad rather than lenient foreign policies that attract those firms. Although firms headquartered in countries with strict domestic environmental policies are more likely to export pollution to foreign countries, they nevertheless emit somewhat less overall CO2 globally.
Differences in and Drivers of Mental, Social, Functional, and Financial Well-Being During COVID-19
COVID-19 has a substantial and unexpected impact on individuals’ daily life around the world. Unprecedented public health restrictions such as lockdowns have the potential to affect multiple dimensions of individuals’ well-being, while the severity of such restrictions varies across countries. However, a holistic perspective comparing differences in and drivers of the different dimensions of well-being across countries differentially affected by COVID-19 is missing to date.
In this paper in PLoS-ONE, Arvid Hoffmann (University of Adelaide), Daria Plotkina (University of Strasbourg), Marie-Hélène Broihanne (University of Strasbourg), Anja Göritz (University of Freiburg) and I address this gap in the literature. We examine the mental, social, functional, and financial well-being of 2,100 individuals across Australia, France, Germany, and South Africa by means of a survey administered during May of 2021.
Supporting our holistic approach, we find that the different dimensions of well-being are correlated, with survey respondents from France reporting the lowest and those from Australia reporting the highest overall level of well-being. Respondents’ subjective and objective evaluations of their living conditions during lockdowns as well as positive health and financial behaviors are positively associated with their well-being during the pandemic.