How microeconomics can help devise evidence-based policy responses to COVID-19

By Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Professor of Economics at Yale University, and Faculty director of the Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE), and Jaya Wen, Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


covid-19-microeconomics-policyThe new coronavirus has already exacted a profound toll all over the world. A notable feature of COVID-19’s course is that early outbreaks occurred primarily in middle- and high-income countries, so evidence and policy guidance have been tailored for these contexts. Policymakers will need to reevaluate these approaches as the disease progresses to poor countries. Even if the ultimate objective remains protecting the quality and extent of human life everywhere, effective intermediate goals and policy approaches are context-dependent, modulated by factors like health care capacity, poverty levels, government capacity, economic informality, and the prevalence of high-density, low-infrastructure living conditions. Continue reading

COVID-19: Make health systems a global public good

By Milindo Chakrabarti, Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University and Visiting Fellow, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)


This blog* is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide*.



health-systemPandemics are always unpredictable and, unlike natural disasters that are mostly localised, they affect countries across the globe. Within a span of less than five months, millions have been affected by COVID-19 and thousands have perished. It has taken its toll across countries irrespective of their levels of income. To more effectively prevent and fight pandemics, we must shift from a national approach to health services to investing in health as a truly global public good. This will require action on pandemic insurance, on the development of pandemic-related infrastructure, and on intellectual property rights.

COVID-19: a crisis beyond income levels

The World Bank categorizes countries in terms of their per capita income. There are 80 High Income Countries, 60 Upper Middle Income Countries, 47 Lower Middle Income Countries and 31 Low Income Countries. These four categories are often used as a proxy for a country’s overall level of development. Has COVID-19 infection and mortality rates correlated with the level of income? Continue reading

COVID-19 – An unprecedented global threat that deserves unprecedented leadership

By Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and author


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


leader-crisisCOVID-19 is the greatest global threat the world has faced since the Second World War. It is not the deadliest or most infectious disease recorded, but the level of globalization and interconnectedness of the world render it particularly destructive. The depth of the global economic crisis is exceptional; not only is it worse than the 2008 global recession, it is exacerbated by its occurrence at a point where there is weakened global collaboration and political posturing over COVID-19 at an international level and in many individual countries. The world’s response to the virus was briefly but perfectly expressed in the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement, “This is an enemy that we have underestimated from day one and we have paid the price dearly”.

Heroic sacrifices have been made by health personnel and frontline workers across the world, while the wider public, also affected by tragedy and sacrifice, has demonstrated its readiness to follow measures to curb COVID-19. Many local and national governments, despite the initial delay, have shown exceptional leadership in their efforts to avert disaster and to inspire the public and vulnerable members of society. However, the actions, or lack of them, of some leaders have spread confusion and disruption. Continue reading

COVID-19 and the future of international co-operation: consolidating a new approach

By Annalisa Prizzon, Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


This blog* is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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At the time of writing this blog in early April 2020, we didn’t really know how deep and long-lasting the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis would be. Despite these uncertainties, I would argue that aid commitments should be scaled up despite the challenges ahead for aid budgets, more flexible instruments should be considered and that the coronavirus crisis will fast-track the transformation of traditional donor–recipient aid relations to a model of international co-operation between all countries. Continue reading

COVID-19: time for gender inclusive decision-making

By Salma Al-Rashid, Women 20 Engagement Group Sherpa for the G20


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. 30 March 2020. Photo: Shutterstock

Mainstreaming gender equality is an intrinsic part on the road to recovery from COVID-19.

2020 is a pivotal year for public policy, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting at least 183 countries. Countries and multinational institutions are struggling as the pandemic not only tests our healthcare systems but creates chaos in our economies with implications far beyond previous financial crises. There is a danger, illuminated by the absence of any language around gender at the G20 Extraordinary virtual Summit on COVID-19 that the important strides made in the last fifteen years to balance women in policymaking are at risk. The consequences of this would be short-sighted as we start to rebuild economic sectors and labour forces.

In the immediate term, we know that women are a vital part of the healthcare infrastructure that is battling the pandemic head-on. Women comprise almost 7 out of 10 health and social care workers and contribute $3 trillion annually to global health, half in the form of unpaid care work. This includes highly skilled workers – in OECD countries, just under 50 percent of doctors are female, and this proportion has been increasing as the share of female graduates continues to rise – and those in lower-skilled positions. Continue reading

The fast changing geography of COVID-19: The poorest countries will be next and the world needs a tried and tested response protocol now

By Jan Rieländer, Head of Multidimensional Country Reviews, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Empty street in Bogotá,  Colombia, March 2020. Photo: Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread fast. As of April 15th, cases have been reported in 181 countries and deaths in 150. Just two weeks earlier, at the beginning of the month, death from COVID had only been reported in 128 countries (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Countries with COVID cases and deaths, by income group, as of April 15th, 2020

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The fast global spread is quickly changing the geography of who is affected. Currently, the virus is showing the heaviest impact in the advanced economies of Europe, North America and East Asia, which together account for 80% of confirmed cases and 88% of deaths attributed to COVID-19. Just six weeks ago, on March 1st, China accounted for over 90% of both confirmed infections and deaths, while advanced economies accounted for less than 3% of global COVID deaths at the time. By mid-March, China’s share on both counts had dropped to 50%. By mid-April, China has largely reopened its economy as well as the city of Wuhan where the virus originated, and only accounted for 2.5% of global deaths and 4.1% of global cases (Figure 2).  Continue reading

COVID-19: consequences for international migration and development

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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While the COVID-19 pandemic is not a migration issue, it is being viewed and managed as one. Fear-exploiting rhetoric around the crisis could provide the political space to push structural anti-migration policies through. This would be detrimental to the rights and health of migrants, and the positive impact migrants have on development – in 2017, an estimated 258 million international migrants filled labour shortages and contributed to transferring much needed skills, goods and services around the globe.

We have made remarkable strides to strengthen migration governance but if migrants’ rights are not protected in the short and long-term response to the COVID-19 crisis, progress could unravel, putting migrants and their families, as well as some of the foundations of our global economy at risk. Continue reading

Latin America and the Caribbean in the time of COVID-19: Preventing the vulnerable from falling behind

By Federico Bonaglia, Deputy Director, OECD Development Centre, and Sebastian Nieto Parra, Head of Latin America and the Caribbean Unit, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Photo by Manuel on Unsplash
Local worker cleans the streets amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Vina del Mar, Chile

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The necessary containment measures against COVID-19 have engendered an unprecedented global economic crisis, combining supply and demand side shocks. Now, the pandemic is affecting Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and countries are bracing for the ripple effects. Just months ago, many countries in the region experienced a wave of mass protests driven by deep social discontent, frustrated aspirations, persistent vulnerability and growing poverty. The crisis will exacerbate these problems.

Beyond the magnitude of the impacts on already weak health systems – some 125 million people still lack access to basic health services – the overwhelming socioeconomic impact of the crisis could disproportionately fall on vulnerable and poor households if ambitious policy responses are not put in place. Continue reading

Covid-19: time to unleash the power of international co-operation

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By Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development


This blog* is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Development co-operationThe rapid spread of the dire human, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shows just how interconnected we are. International co-operation has become –literally– vital.

A health crisis has set off a global economic crisis, where shocks on the demand and supply sides are combining in an unprecedented scenario. Many developing countries are bracing themselves. While Europe is struggling to contain and cope with a spiralling number of cases and fatalities, the effects in countries where health systems are already weak, economies are highly dependent on global demand, and strict containment policies are more difficult to implement, could be even more disastrous.

Major outbreaks in developing countries could cause the collapse of weak health systems and expose gaps in social protection programmes, especially in Africa, where so many schemes rely on official development assistance. A humanitarian crisis may be in the making: travel restrictions affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and infections in refugee camps – largely hosted in developing countries – will be difficult to fight. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide, possibly more, as the majority of workers in developing countries are in the informal economy. Continue reading

Lessons from coronavirus for the future of ‘aid’

By Jonathan Glennie, Senior Fellow,  Joep Lange Institute


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


 

Beijing airport tarmac by Cory Doctorow
Beijing airport tarmac. Photo by Cory Doctorow

In December 2019 cases of a little-known disease called coronavirus were reported in Wuhan, a city in China with a population of about 11 million. As of 20 January 2020 there were 282 confirmed cases of the virus, 278 of which originated in China. Less than three months later, over 3,400 people in Italy were dead. Countries all over the world are gearing up for long periods of lockdown as a global pandemic takes hold. If ever proof were needed that health concerns in one country require a coordinated and well-funded global response, this is it.

What does this tell us about the future of global cooperation? The next chapter in the story of the China−Italy coronavirus relationship is equally relevant. On 13 March China sent a planeload of experts and medical supplies to Italy, including masks and respirators. Italy is one of the world’s richest countries (average income, US$34,480); despite rapid advance over the past decades, China is still much poorer (average income, US$9,770). Continue reading