This economics professor is already trying to make up for the Coronavirus

This economics professor is already trying to make up for the Coronavirus

You argue that scarcity and inequality play a major role in the spread of the Coronavirus. How is that exactly?

“Fertile land for an epidemic at the bottom of society. Narrow housing, dependence on public transportation, and the exercise of basic occupations, all things that increase the chance of contracting and spreading the virus.”

“Take students, for example. They usually can’t travel in the car-safe bubble, and they’re packed together in large complexes, let alone the jobs they occupy. This is very different from my world as a professor, as the complete switch to online education isn’t very drastic. This is so.” He is the reason why it is important, among other things, to make improvements in urban planning, so that not everyone is filled with good weather in Vondelpark.

Economists usually say that market forces are the solution to the problem of scarcity, but this is not the case during a pandemic. In healthcare, the question has nothing to do with the price, because if you are sick, you just want to get better. Unfortunately, in the event of a pandemic, healthcare must therefore be legalized. In the future, for example, we can designate certain hospitals that are fully committed to the epidemic, so that no care in other hospitals will have to be postponed. “

You are very critical of how badly we are prepared for the current pandemic. How can this be done better in the future?

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“Over the next ten or fifteen years, we have to make strong preparations against epidemics at all levels. Individuals, companies, regions, countries, etc. We have seen in the current epidemic how, for example, you cannot depend on other people to adhere to lineage or The rules, so you have to be prepared on your own. For example, it helps to have a small stock of groceries at home for emergencies, in case there is a run in the supermarkets. Then you avoid embarrassing situations where you suddenly run out of toilet paper. What we see also Is that the only real protection against the epidemic is at the supranational level, not at the national level. On the international level, we had bad luck with Trump who could be quite a handicap on the world stage. “

How will we do economically if we emerge from the Corona pandemic?

“It is difficult to draw conclusions now about the impact of the so-called financial bazooka – large government investments like the European Corona Recovery Fund. In the Netherlands, we can reasonably hope for an economic recovery. After a very sharp decline at the start of the epidemic, industrial production has also risen very sharply. Again, in a kind of fifth curve.

Governments have done something special: They’ve spent so much that people can keep working. Take the catering industry for example: once we can go to the balcony again, we’ll do it collectively. Hence, recovery in this sector will not take long, as I expect. People fear an economic collapse because of the experiences of 2008, but that was really a different kind of crisis. In previous pandemics, we also see that the economic impact was still significant without companies shutting down or shutting down. During the Spanish flu of 1918, there was 25 to 50 percent absenteeism in the United States, which was not entirely positive for production. “

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The epidemic is not over yet, or you have already written a book about it. This is very fast.

Van Bergijk laughs: “I can get anxious when something like this happens and I need some kind of therapy to get rid of it. This book is just that. The difference is that it is not the first time that I think about it, because I am a member of a group that advises the government on national security. 2012 about the epidemic, it turns out that the IC capacity is insufficient and tens of thousands of people will be killed. It shocked me then. We updated these scenarios in 2019. But honestly, I wasn’t expecting the economy to shut down. We couldn’t expect that this is another reason for this book. “.

What academic insights do you expect once the pandemic is over?

“It will take two years before we really know what happened in this epidemic. In the medical world, for example, many interventions have been postponed, and we hope that we can monitor their impact in that period. The same goes for drawing international comparisons: it will take Some time before we can compare all the numbers in the study. One thing is for sure, the next pandemic is coming, and I hope we have the preparations in order by then. I am quite optimistic: I was not expecting a vaccine, our way out of this epidemic, so I quickly wrote The book. We control the future. “

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