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Covid-19 Infections and Short-Run Worker Performance: Evidence from European Football

Alexander Farnell, Department of Economics, Maynooth University

COVID-19 infections represent a recurrent and relatively homogenous source of workplace absenteeism. We use a matched employee-employer dataset of footballers contracted to European football clubs who have tested positive for COVID-19. Given the public disclosure of COVID-19 positive cases in football, it is possible to assess the impact of the virus on the short-run performance of high value employees who rely regularly on remarkable levels of fitness to perform their task. We employ a Difference-in-Differences approach, which compares the performance of infected players to the performance of a random control group of players, measured pre pandemic. Our results suggest that while raw performance measures are adversely affected, the effect is short lived (2-3 games before recovery). Moreover, effective management of minutes on the pitch means that player's per minute statistics are no different pre vs post infection. This is perhaps not too surprising, given the world class medical facilities that players have access to.

19th Oct 2021

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