Once a safe COVID-19 vaccine will become available, there will not be enough supply of it to vaccinate the entire population. Policy makers at national and international level are currently developing vaccine prioritization strategies. However, it is important that these strategies have sufficient levels of public support. We conducted a ranking exercise and a discrete choice experiment on a representative sample of 2,000 Belgians in order to elicit their preferences regarding how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine across the population. We identified that three sub-groups had similarly high levels of support for access priority: the chronically ill, essential professions, and individuals likely to spread the virus the most. We identified two clusters of respondents. While both wanted to vaccinate essential professions, cluster one (N=1058) primarily wanted to target virus spreaders whereas cluster two (N=886) wanted to prioritize the chronically ill. Prioritizing those over 60 years of age was remarkably unpopular. Other strategies such as allocating the vaccine using a â€˜lotteryâ€™, â€˜first-come, first-servedâ€™ approach or willingness-to-pay received little support. Public opinion is a key variable for a successful engaged COVID-19 vaccination policy. A strategy simultaneously prioritizing medical risk groups, essential professions and spreaders seems to be most in line with societal preferences. When asked to choose, people agree to vaccinate essential professions but disagree whether to prioritise people with high-medical risk or virus spreaders.
Kessels, R, J Luyten and S Tubeuf (2020), ‘Who should get it first? Public preferences for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine‘, COVID Economics 57, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-57#392514_392933_390664
I examine the relationship between mask usage and COVID-19 deaths at the county level. When examining this relationship, even the direction caused by the potential endogeneity bias is unclear. In one direction, characteristics that are known to correlate with a larger amount of potential COVID-19 deaths, such as an older population, may make people more likely to wear masks. This will cause a bias that makes mask usage look less effective than it truly is. In the other direction, areas with higher risk tolerances may have less mask usage, but may at the same time be engaging in other behavior that puts them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. This will cause a bias that makes mask usage look more effective than it truly is. The identification approach exploits a large set of controls and employs percentage of vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election as an instrumental variable for mask usage. The main finding is that a one percentage point increase in the amount of individuals who say they often or frequently wear a mask when within six feet of people will reduce COVID-19 deaths in a county by 10.5%, or six deaths in the average sized county.
Welsch, D (2020), ‘Do Masks Reduce COVID-19 Deaths? A County Level Analysis using IV‘, COVID Economics 57, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-57#392514_392933_390665
A majority of governments around the world unprecedentedly closed schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper quantitatively investigates the macroeconomic and distributional consequences of school closures through intergenerational channels in the medium- and long-term. The model economy is a dynastic overlapping generations general equilibrium model in which schools, in the form of public education investments, complement parental investments in producing children's human capital. We calibrate the stationary equilibrium of the model to the U.S. economy and compute the equilibrium responses following unexpected school closure shocks. We find that school closures have moderate long-lasting adverse effects on macroeconomic aggregates such as output. In addition, we find that school closures reduce intergenerational mobility, especially among older children. Finally, we find that lower substitutability between public and parental investments induces larger damages in the aggregate economy and overall lifetime incomes of the affected children, while mitigating negative impacts on intergenerational mobility. In all findings, heterogeneous parental responses to school closures play a key role. Our results provide a quantitatively relevant dimension to consider for policymakers assessing potential costs of school closures.
Jang, Y and M Yum (2020), ‘Aggregate and Intergenerational Implications of School Closures: A Quantitative Assessment‘, COVID Economics 57, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-57#392514_392933_390666
This paper investigates the state-level differences in government and community responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to different growth trajectories of Covid-19 cases and their connectedness across the U.S. states. Our regression analysis shows that higher growth trajectories are observed in the states that implemented the lax government and community response to the pandemic. Moving to the analysis of spillovers/connectedness of Covid-19 cases across the states, we apply the Diebold-Yilmaz connectedness methodology to the growth rates of Covid-19 cases. Using the total directional connectedness measures, we find that the states with lax government and community response generated connectedness of Covid-19 cases to others. These findings are also supported by the secondary regression analysis of pairwise connectedness measures over time. Finally, the travel intensity between the pairs of states, indirectly measured by the data on smartphone location exposure, contributes significantly to the pairwise directional connectedness of Covid-19 across the states.
Akovali, U and K Yilmaz (2020), ‘Polarized Politics of Pandemic Response and the Covid-19 Connectedness Across the U.S. States‘, COVID Economics 57, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-57#392514_392933_390667
The COVID-19 pandemic has a severely negative impact on economic activity. We analyze whether and to what extent mandatory social distancing imposed by lockdown policies and voluntary social distancing triggered by COVID-19 fatality rates have driven growth developments in the first and second quarter of 2020. Based on a sample of 46 countries and making use of OLS, IV and panel fixed effects regressions we find that the stringency of lockdown policies drives growth developments over time, while fatality rates carry an additional weight in explaining cross-country growth differences for each quarter. Finally, vulnerabilities to mandatory and social distancing performed abroad captured by tourism exposure and trade openness, play a non-negligible role in explaining growth differences across countries in the first half of 2020.
Koenig, M and A Winkler (2020), ‘Monitoring in real time: cross-country evidence on the COVID-19 impact on GDP growth in the first half of 2020‘, COVID Economics 57, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-57#392514_392933_390668