Teaching and Research with SARS-CoV-2

Please allow me some remarks regarding teaching and research during a pandemic. I do thank everybody who cooperates and who supports the efforts of the academic community to teach and to do research in a safe way. I do realise that adjusting routines is sometimes inconvenient. New formats are “not the same” as old formats. New formats are often surprisingly better. I also thank all my colleagues who, with their creativity and with their inspiration, help us dealing with the pandemic.

Digital hospitality among researchers is essential. I am most grateful to the MPI for collective goods for their hospitality and for their inspiring digital activities during the pandemic. I also enjoy several seminar series in my field:

Information
Since I am interested in economic behaviour, I also try to understand, why and how decision makers select information they know is biased, e.g. downplaying the actual risks of SARS-CoV-2. The framework of Kamenica, Gentzkow (AER, 2011) could be useful. Gitmez, Sonin, Wright (2020) apply this framework to behaviour in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Digital contact tracing apps can help to fight the pandemic. But how can users be motivated to install such an app. Cheng, Fang, Goette (2021) use a large-scale experiment on social media to understand how users can be encouraged (Cheng, Fang, Goette. 2021. Not on my smartphone! Does information about local COVID-19 incidence increase the use of digital contact tracing apps? Mimeo).

Externalities
Non-pharmaceutical measures against the pandemic often restrict social contacts. Social contacts come with individual costs and benefits. They also come with externalities, i.e. with cost and benefits for others. Philipson and Posner (1993) present a framework in the context of the AIDS epidemic. Toxvaerd (2021) extends this framework to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and compares the effects of two types of externalities: infection externalities and socioeconomic externalities.

Brotherhood, Jerbashian (2020) study the role of firms. They ask how much firms can gain by fighting infections to protect their workforce.

Quaas , Meya, Schenk, Bos, Drupp, Requate focus on the dynamics of optimal restrictions. Should one restrict contacts in a strict way for a short time, or should one rather restrict contacts in a milder way over a long time horizon?

Lu and Wang (2021) study in which way a pandemic has the potential to change society and to support democratization. Mechanisms considered are civil participation, political dissent, and what the authors call a risk of government by the people consciousness. (Ming Lu and Danli Wang. 2021. Epidemics and Democratization: Historical Evidence from the Establishment of County Councils in China (1900-1949). Mimeo.)

Here are further contributions from researchers in my field which relate to the pandemic and which I find interesting: Here are some links regarding the spread of the infection. This is not strictly economics, but since economic arguments on how to deal with the pandemic are often based on forecasts, a good model of the spread of the infection is key: