The social gradient in COVID-19 vaccination intentions and the role of solidarity beliefs among adolescents von Alexander Patzina und Hans Dietrich




Vaccines against COVID-19 play a prominent role in the policies enacted to combat the pandemic. However, vaccination rates are lowest among adolescents and young adults. Therefore, research on younger individuals is needed to provide a deeper understanding of social disparities and the motives behind vaccination intentions.


This study draws on a sample (N = 4079) of German high school students and graduates. Based on cross-sectional data from March to July 2021 and linear regression models, which are conditioned on personality, risk preferences, and trust, the study analyses social disparities (i.e., gender, parental education and migration background) in vaccination intentions.


We do not find heterogeneity by gender. Individuals with low-educated parents and a migration background indicate below-average levels of vaccination intention. Differences in solidarity beliefs entirely explain the heterogeneity between individuals with low-educated parents and those with high-educated parents. While differences in beliefs explain a substantial part of the heterogeneity in vaccination intentions, cultural and monetary resources also constitute an important source of difference in vaccination intentions between individuals with and without a migration background. These results are important because our data indicate higher infection risks among individuals with a migration and low education background. Additionally, individuals from lower social origins and with migration backgrounds report higher levels of perceived burdens associated with COVID-19-related policies. The migration results differ between first- and second-generation migrants and by region of origin.


Polarization in solidarity explains social gradients in vaccination intention. A solidarity narrative may not motivate a significant share of young individuals to be vaccinated.

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