NaDiRa Short Study: Racism in the Corona Crisis

Racist attitudes in times of crisis

National Monitoring of Discrimination and Racism (NaDiRa)

Running time October 2020 until December 2020
Status Completed project

Project team:

  • Ruud Koopmans
  • Marc Helbling
  • Max Schaub
  • Daniel Auer
  • Tamara Bogatzki
  • Jana Glaese
  • Eylem Kanol
  • Ines Michalowski
  • Julia Stier

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Project description:

The public debate about the necessity of measures to contain the coronavirus is characterised, among other things, by the concern that hospitals will be overburdened and that it may not be possible to help all patients. Against this background, our society is confronted with the ethical question of whether the life of one person is more valuable than that of another. So far, however, we know very little about how the population thinks about this. This project is therefore guided by the following two research questions: 1) On the one hand, it examines the principles according to which people in Germany would select corona patients if the ventilators in intensive care units were to become scarce. 2) Secondly, it asks whether people with a migrant background are more likely to lose their jobs due to the economic crisis in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. In order to investigate these questions, a representative wave survey with regard to age, gender and education was conducted with about 19,000 people in Germany between April 2020 and March 2021.


Regarding sub-question 1: It can be seen that patients' chances of survival play the greatest role. This underlines the broad support for the principle, which is already advocated by many medical associations and ethics committees. It also shows that migrants are much less likely to be selected. People without children and people with a criminal record are also strongly discriminated against. Regarding sub-question 2: People with a migrant background are on average 50 per cent more likely to lose their job compared to non-migrants working in the same profession in the same sector. This effect of discrimination increases to 300 per cent in those sectors most severely affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic. 

Surprising insights:

Regarding sub-question 1: Preferences have been shown to remain stable over the entire study period between the start of the pandemic and the start of the third wave at the end of March 2021. They were therefore not influenced by the Corona case numbers and the discussion of a possible triage. on sub-question 2: Migrants are less likely to be in short-time work. This suggests that short-time work and lay-offs are makeshift measures that employers apply unequally to migrants and non-migrants. 

Short studies in preparation of the Racism Monitor:

In order to prepare a comprehensive racism monitor, DeZIM called on scholars* from the DeZIM research community in 2020 to develop innovative study ideas. These should extend existing research projects, pursue new and innovative approaches or build an infrastructure to research racism. By 2021, more than 120 researchers at the six locations of the DeZIM research community had conducted a total of 34 short studies. These are divided into six thematic priorities:

  • Health system
  • Education system and labour market
  • Institutional racism
  • Dealing with experiences of racism
  • Participation and the media
  • Racist ideologies and attitudes

Funding: Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Third-party funding)