Economic analysisHow Economists Are Trying to Answer Coronavirus Questions

Published 7 April 2020

Epidemiologists, virologists and other health experts are throwing everything they have at understanding the new coronavirus, hoping to develop treatments, vaccines and strategies to slow its spread and limit its toll. Eduardo Porter writes in the New York Times that economists, too, have broken from other work to explore what they can add to understanding a world upended by disease.
Every Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research puts out a batch of “working papers,” offering an early view of research from the world’s top economists. The most recent list included a paper on how more intensive testing for the coronavirus would allow for less strict quarantines, a piece about how mobility restrictions reduced the spread of the disease in China, one on how to assess the costs and benefits of different policies to reduce the coronavirus transmission rate and another about strategies to ensure compliance with stay-at-home orders in Italy.
One study just published looked at pandemics back to the 14th century, concluding that they inhibit investment and increase savings for decades, depressing an economy’s central interest rate. Another evaluated the short-term macroeconomic shock from the virus and assessed ways to respond.