COVID-19 has significantly altered how Germans perceive risk

14 October 2020 — Andrei Victor
The "ERGO Risk Report 2020 EXTRA", conducted by the independent market research institute "HEUTE UND MORGEN" in mid-September, clarifies that the corona crisis has changed the perception of risks and opportunities considerably - but has also encouraged Germans to be more open for digital innovations.

Serious illness remains the greatest fear for the future, but is now closely followed by the fear of becoming the victim of a virus epidemic in the years to come. At the same time, however, the respondents noted that the corona crisis may have a positive impact on the environment.

Concerning digitisation, Germans continue to fear identity theft and the loss of data protection the most; at the same time, there is a surprisingly high degree of acceptance for the use of interactive voice response systems. The number of users of the corona track and trace app may increase, if the number of infections rises or if more detailed information is provided on how the app works and how personal data is protected.

In the special edition of the Risk Report, ERGO asked about concerns and opportunities explicitly related to the corona crisis for the first time: six out of ten Germans are worried about another wave in 2021 (60%). With regard to the corona pandemic, the risk of contracting corona is the greatest fear for almost one in four Germans (23%). Against this background it is hardly surprising that "medical progress" remains the greatest hope for the future in 2020 for most Germans (50% vs. 2019: 48%). It also shows that medical knowledge has improved in 2020: the majority of Germans (89%) can correctly explain the significance of the reproduction number R. However, there is still a lack of knowledge regarding the period of reproduction and possible extent of infection (49% and 42% respectively).

The corona pandemic has also had a significant impact on leisure activities in Germany. Most people want to avoid cultural events, cinema screenings and bars in the short term, but many also plan to avoid them in the long term:

But Germans also see opportunities in the corona pandemic: the positive impact on the environment (e.g. better air quality) gives hope to more than one in four Germans (28%).

With regard to digitisation in general, Germans continue to view identity theft (53% vs. 2019: 50%) and loss of data privacy (49% vs. 2019: 48%) as the greatest threats.

A new set of questions in this survey was about attitudes towards the corona track and trace app: the app is used by about four out of ten respondents over the age of 18 (38%). Young people up to the age of 30 (48%) and higher earners (51%) are most likely to have installed the app. However, a proportion of those not yet using the app would consider installing it on their smartphone if infection rates rise (18%) or if better information is provided on how the app works or on data protection (16%). Around one in four respondents (27%) is against using the app on principle.

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