Is there a dose-response relationship? Investigating the functional form between COVID-19 incidence rates and life satisfaction in a multilevel framework

Faculty/Professorship: Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) 
Author(s): Bittmann, Felix  
Publisher Information: Bamberg : Otto-Friedrich-Universität
Year of publication: 2022
Pages: 3315–3330
Source/Other editions: Journal of Happiness Studies, 23 (2022), 7, S. 3315–3330 - ISSN: 1573-7780
is version of: 10.1007/s10902-022-00542-1
Year of first publication: 2022
Language(s): English
Licence: Creative Commons - CC BY - Attribution 4.0 International 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-562148
While there is plenty of research linking the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic to a drastic reduction of life satisfaction in the population, there is little information on the functional form of this relationship. Until now, one could suspect that this association is linear and a higher number of COVID-19 infections in a region leads to a continuous decline of satisfaction. However, there are reasons to assume that this interrelation is indeed more complex and deserves further attention. To resolve this question, high-quality panel data of the first wave of COVID-19 from Germany are analysed in a fixed-effect multilevel framework. With information from more than 6,000 respondents (after imputation) nested in 339 federal districts, we estimate linear models with higher-order terms up to the fifth degree of median COVID-19 incidence rates and random intercepts for districts to describe the functional form. The results indicate that even regions with very low incidences are affected and a linear decline of satisfaction is only apparent for rather low incidence levels, quickly reaching a plateau, which is then quite constant, even for higher incidence levels. These findings indicate that at least in rich and industrialized countries like Germany, assuming a strictly linear relation between incidences and change of satisfaction is not appropriate.
GND Keywords: Deutschland; COVID-19; Inzidenz <Medizin>; Zufriedenheit
Keywords: Life satisfaction, COVID-19, Functional form, Incidence, Multilevel, First-difference
DDC Classification: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology  
RVK Classification: MS 6020   
Type: Article
Release Date: 10. November 2022

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