Impacts of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Older-Age Cohorts in European Labor Markets: A Machine Learning Exploration of Vulnerable Groups

Mehmet Güney Celbis*, Pui Hang Wong, Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


We identify vulnerable groups through the examination of their employment status in the face of the initial coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) shock through the application of tree-based ensemble machine learning algorithms on a sample of individuals over 50 years old. The present study elaborates on the findings through various interpretable machine learning techniques, namely Shapley values, individual conditional expectations, partial dependences, and variable importance scores. The structure of the data obtained from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) dataset enables us to specifically observe the before versus the after effects of the pandemic shock on individual job status in spatial labor markets. We identify small but distinct subgroups that may require particular policy interventions. We find that the persons in these groups are prone to pandemic-related job loss owing to different sets of individual-level factors such as employment type and sector, age, education, and prepandemic health status in addition to location-specific factors such as drops in mobility and stringency policies affecting particular regions or countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-584
Number of pages26
JournalRegional Science Policy and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2023


  • unemployment
  • machine learning
  • age
  • mobility
  • stringency

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