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Science, Policy & Pandemics: The Economic Implications of Covid-19

14 May 2020

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Reported by Kate McNeil, CSaP Communications Officer

As part of our series on Science, Policy and Pandemics, we explored the implications of the COVID-19 shock for international trade and labour market inequalities, with a focus on the UK context.

Listen to the discussion here:

Produced in partnership with Cambridge Infectious Diseases and the Cambridge Immunology Network, CSaP's Science and Policy Podcast's series on science, policy and pandemics aims to answer questions about our understanding of the current pandemic, including the epidemiology, on what basis governments are making current decisions, how much confidence we can have in the knowledge models are producing, and how to manage the uncertainties involved in the present crisis.

In this episode, Dr Rob Doubleday spoke with Dr Meredith Crowley, a Reader in International Economics at the University of Cambridge whose work focuses on international trade, and Dr Christopher Rauh a Lecturer in Economics at University of Cambridge, who focuses on social inequalities.

Throughout the episode, Dr Crowley emphasized that the current economic crisis we face is unprecedented. While comparisons have been made to the 2008 recession, on a global level, this economic crisis is much more severe and globally synchronized. She predicted that the recovery process to a normal level of growth will take a long, slow climb. Meanwhile, Dr Rauh highlighted that 15% of workers in the UK have lost their jobs due to coronavirus, but that this is not equally distributed across occupations or types of people. Those on temporary contracts, those with lower levels of education, and those working in service positions which require face-to-face interactions have been more likely to lose their jobs. In both the US and the UK, women have also been more likely to lose their jobs, even when researchers control for occupation, education level, and individual and job characteristics. There are also regional differences in job loss rates throughout the UK, though these differences are predominately tied to differences in dominant local industries.

Dr Rauh also emphasized that there is much other countries can learn from the German furlough scheme. With a long history associated with the mining industry, this furlough scheme offers flexibility employers to reduce hours rather than shutting down and offers increased security for employers and employees by running for long periods in time if need be. At the point of economic recovery, Dr Rauh suggests that this will give companies operating under the system the benefit of having maintained their human capital throughout this crisis.

Throughout the discussion, speakers also addressed the pros and cons of activist industrial policy, the evidence-based models used by the Department of International Trade, and what we learned about economic modelling during recessions during the 2008 Great Recession.


CSaP's Science and Policy Podcast's special series on Science, Policy and Pandemics is available accross all major podcasting platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Google Play, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, and Castbox.

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Cover Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash

Dr Meredith Crowley

Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge

Dr Christopher Rauh

Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge