Germany's Capacities to Work from Home
39 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 30, 2020
We propose an index of working from home (WFH) capacity for the German economy, drawing on rich survey and administrative data. We find that 56 percent of jobs are WFH feasible, most of which are located in urban areas and in highly digitized industries. Using individual-level data on tasks and work conditions, we show that heterogeneity in WFH feasibility is largely explained by differences in task content. WFH feasible jobs are typically characterized by cognitive, non-manual tasks, and PC usage. We compare our survey-based measure with popular task-based measures of WFH capacity, which usually rely on determining tasks that are incompatible with WFH, and show that task-based approaches capture variation in WFH capacity across occupations quite accurately. Finally, we demonstrate that our WFH index constitutes a strong predictor of actual WFH outcomes during the Covid-19 crisis and discuss applications in the context of the pandemic and the future of work.
Keywords: COVID-19, working from home; Germany
JEL Classification: D240, J220, J240, O330, R120
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