Third IESR-GLO Joint Conference. The Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR) at Jinan University and the Global Labor Organization (GLO) are jointly organizing a virtual conference on the economic issues related to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We intend to provide a platform for economists to exchange ideas on improving responses to Covid-19 through a series of presentations of high-quality academic papers.
We are pleased to announce that the conference will feature keynote addresses by Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and Charles Manski (Northwestern University).
The conference will be held from June 5 (Friday) to June 7 (Sunday) through Zoom Webinar. Each presentation will take 25 minutes. We also welcome proposals of a session of two related papers.
Please submit a paper at https://wj.qq.com/s2/6209137/1e75 no later than May 24. The contact author will be notified of the decision by May 27. Considering the time constraint, submissions before May 24 are very much appreciated and we will contact authors of accepted papers as quickly as possible. We charge no fees.
Tentative Schedule (local time) for June 5 (Friday), June 6 (Saturday), June 7 (Sunday):
The conference is supported by theJournal of Population Economics. The Journal welcomes submissions dealing with the demographic aspects of the coronavirus crisis. After fast refereeing, successful papers will be published in the next available issue.
The world is shaken by the #coronavirus crisis. Top health economist Xi Chen, who has done new and original research on the virus, explains his conclusions on the management of the crisis based on the Chinese experiences and the challenges for research.
In the past decade, many nations in the world de-invested in their disease control and prevention.
Now it is better to overreact than to underreact.
The Chinese experience shows that only after ten days the harsh measures already altered the infection growth trajectory.
The UK’s strategy of obtaining “herd immunity” is very risky given the little knowledge about this new virus.
Social distancing can saliently reduce the risk of contracting virus via avoiding inhaling droplets or touching through handshake.
This very likely to be a long pandemic.
GLO Fellow Xi Chenis a Professor of Global Health Policy and Economics at Yale University, the GLO Cluster Lead of “Environment and Human Capital in Developing Countries”, and the President of the China Health Policy and Management Society(CHPAMS).
GLO:Your research is on health issues and their societal and economic consequences, how did you come to this research focus?
Xi Chen: The pursuit of health and longevity for mankind has no limits. As health spending has accounted for the largest share of GDP across many countries, it becomes very important to assess if our spending is cost-effective and affordable. A health and labor economist by training, I’m very passionate about using research findings to inform health resources allocation and improve actions at the individual, community, and societal levels.
GLO:You are currently the President of the China Health Policy and Management Society. What is the purpose of this society and what is your role as its head?
Xi Chen: China Health Policy and Management Society (CHPAMS) is a global professional organization with over 2,200 members around the world. Our mission is to improve health and health equity and contribute to the advancement of health research, practice, and education of areas including but not limited to, health policy and management, health economics, epidemiology, and global health. As president of CHPAMS, my Board of Directors and I have been striving to accomplish our mission by fostering and promoting scholarly exchanges among its members and with Chinese public health community, and by building health research capacities of China institutions.
GLO: As a frequent observer and researcher of the health conditions in China: How could the coronavirus outbreak happen and what is to learn?
Xi Chen: The heavily invested infectious disease surveillance system did not sound alarm for this novel virus. Part of the reasons include that the system did not allow medical workers to report new diseases, and that most medical professionals were not well trained to appropriately report cases. This important issue is not unique to China. In the past decade, many nations in the world de-invested in their disease control and prevention. In the meantime, they did not invest appropriately in building a primary care system to initial diagnosis of patients before they all flooded to overstretched hospitals. All these investments should be made ahead before the next pandemic.
GLO:Patient but careful responses or early harsh measures: Is the strict reaction of the Chinese government the right one as a model for the world?
Xi Chen: For infectious diseases, especially COVID-19 that is new to the world, it is better to overreacting than underreacting. The exponential growth trajectory of virus determines that the time it takes to double the number of cases keeps shrinking. Governments, social entities and individuals should intervene early and strong enough to flatten the curve for sustained medical resources to treat severely ill patients, rather than squandering the window of opportunity until reaching healthcare capacity. Overburdened health infrastructure leads to more infections and high fatality rate, like we are observing in Italy. China set a good example after it decided to lock down Hubei province with a number of stringent public health measures. Our latest study forthcoming as a GLO Discussion Paper shows that only after ten days the harsh measures already altered the infection growth trajectory.
GLO:Is re-infection with the virus possible? If the immune system is strengthened during an infection, harsh lock downs of the countries do not remove the need to adjust to the new threat at some time.
Xi Chen: Normally, people once contracted a virus will obtain at least temporary immunity for at least weeks or months. However, this time this is a novel coronavirus, we still know little about this. Some news and published clinical evidence already show cases people (in China’s Guangdong province and other areas) re-infected after being discharged from hospitals. Therefore, I thought the UK’s strategy of obtaining “herd immunity” is very risky given our little knowledge about this new virus. The “herd immunity” needs a threshold of at least 60% of population being infected, many of them are older adults, especially with multiple chronic conditions. A massive number of them will die. From a public policy perspective, we should try the best to protect these vulnerable groups, not leaving them behind as they were during pandemic in history. It is good to see that today the British government seems to change the strategy by offering protection to those above 70 and those living in nursing homes. In America, I was among the 15 Yale and Harvard colleagues to write an open letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the US government for an equitable response to this pandemic, and not unfairly operate at the cost of those most vulnerable.
GLO:What are the most effective single measures so far we understand this today to tame the speed of transitions?
Xi Chen: In my view it is social distancing, such as cancelling large social gathering, allowing flexible work schedule and working from home, leave more person-to-person space in public facilities. Social distancing can saliently reduce the risk of contracting virus via avoiding inhaling droplets or touching through handshake.
GLO:For the world-wide level: Can the disease be contained soon or do we have to accept a longer pandemic?
Xi Chen: I’m afraid it is very likely to be a long pandemic. Part of the reason is the lack of global coordination that delayed the joined efforts to contain the virus or avoid long scale community transmissions. While different countries are at different stages of this pandemic, we already see that most countries already abandoned the strategy of containment. Instead, the mitigating strategy has been widely adopted. Given the stronger infectiousness but weaker virulence of this novel coronavirus compared to other types of coronavirus like SARS and MERS, it is more likely we will see the recurring of this virus outbreak. In other words, we will have to adapt to the world where this virus will coexist with us. My hope is that this outbreak may not last too long to further disrupt the global supply chain.
GLO:Given the large economic and social impacts we observe, where are the larger challenges for research, on the medical or the psychological side?
Xi Chen: On the medical side, it is challenging so far to find the origin of the virus, and intermediate host. We are questing the answer to these questions in order to stop its transmissions to human society and to know the roots of the pandemic. Other challenges are more relevant to our economists. For example, what are the real social costs of this pandemic. We know that patients with other diseases were not able to be treated due to the crowding-out of medical resources. Many residents under lockdown suffer from mental illnesses which can be very costly to treat after the crisis. Finally, we know little about the potential benefits of stringent public health measures, which depends on our understanding of the counterfactual for this new virus outbreak.
On January 3, the Kuznets Prize of the Journal of Population Economics was givento Gautam Hazarika, Chandan KumarJha, and Sudipta Sarangi at the IESR/Jinan University reception with Jim Heckman, Klaus F. Zimmermann and Shuaizhang Feng:
1. Paper examines the relationship between ecological endowments in antiquity and contemporary female to male sex ratios in the population. 2. It finds robust evidence that there are proportionately more missing women in countries whose ancestral ecological endowments were poorer. 3. Gender inequality is larger, that is, the female to male sex ratio lower, in regions whose peoples’ ancestors experienced greater resource stress captured by historical crop yields measures. 4. A conclusion is that ecological resource scarcity led to gender inequality in the intra-household allocation of resources in the past and that the associated behaviors have been culturally transmitted to the present as norms.
Shuaizhang Feng (Dean of IESR) introduced IESR and gave a warm welcome to the participants. Klaus F. Zimmermann introduced the Kuznets Prize, the award article and the authors. Jim Heckman congratulated the authors and the responsible organizations for the success and presented the award certificates. Chandan KumarJha and Sudipta Sarangi took the honors for all three authors and received the deserved applause of the large audience. Greetings went to author Gautam Hazarika and the responsible editor of the awarded article, Alessandro Cigno, who both could not be in San Diego.
Since 2019, Shuaizhang Feng is also an Editor of the Journal of Population Economics, Jim Heckman has been an Associate Editor for decades, while Klaus F. Zimmermann is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief. Heckman and Zimmermann supported IESR from the beginning. GLO is proud to note that all authors have joined the organization as Fellows, as Cigno, Feng and Heckman.
The Second GLO – Renmin University of China Conference on Labor Economics in Beijing took place in the North Hall, Century Hall, RUC, 7-8 December 2019. More details: Report 1 and Report 2. The full program and further conference pictures are below.
Keynote speakers of the event were GLO FellowsShi Li of Zhejiang University and Xi Chen of Yale University. Conference organizers were GLO Fellows Corrado Giulietti and Jun Han.GLO Director Matloob Piracha also gave a paper, and GLO Fellow Zhong Zhao and GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann had addressed the conference. The event is part of the GLO China Research Cluster, which is lead by Corrado Giulietti, who is also a GLO Research Director.
Conference activists from the left : Zhong Zhao, Shi Li, Klaus F. Zimmermann, Jun Han, Matloob Piracha, Corrado Giulietti & Xi Chen.
Saturday, December 7, 2019: First day
Morning, speakers, conference openings and keynote Giulietti, Zimmermann of GLO and Zhao, Han of Renmin University of China
Morning Speakers From the left: Jing Wu, Tobias Haepp and Chuhong Wang
Afternoon, keynote and session speakers Corrado Giulietti & Xi Chen
Afternoon speakers from the left: Zhangfeng Jin, Yunqi Zeng, Xiangiang Zou, Jun Han & Zhuang Hao
Sunday, December 8, 2019: Second day
Speakers Li Dai, Wang Yue & Matloob Piracha
Debate and farewell Chuhong Wang, Klaus F. Zimmermann & Corrado Giulietti
GLO Research Director Danny Blanchflower has just published his challenging and much acclaimed new book: “Don’t trust low unemployment numbers as proof that the labor market is doing fine—it isn’t. Not Working is about those who can’t find full-time work at a decent wage—the underemployed—and how their plight is contributing to widespread despair, a worsening drug epidemic, and the unchecked rise of right-wing populism.”
GLO President Klaus F. Zimmermann: “The book to read this summer. Original, full of evidence based on micro data analysis. Provocative in its conclusions. Entertaining, even if you do not agree. Important to debate for our future.”
David G. Blanchflower is the Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the coauthor of The Wage Curve. Twitter @D_Blanchflower
GLO: Many people think that the
post-crisis recession is over and employment levels are high again. What is
wrong with this observation?
David G. Blanchflower: Working age employment rates, which calculates employment divided by population – have recovered their pre-recession levels in many countries including the UK, Germany, Japan Canada and France. The main exception is the United States where the employment rate is still below starting levels. That is also true in Denmark, Greece, Norway and Spain. The problem with many of the jobs that have been created over the last decade is that they have been low paid and insecure.
GLO: What do you mean by underemployment,
how is it measured and why do you think it is so challenging?
David G. Blanchflower: Even though the unemployment rate in many countries has fallen a lot and is below 4% in the UK, the US and Germany, wage growth is still benign. That seems to be because of underemployment which has replaced unemployment as the main measure of labor market slack in advanced countries. Underemployment occurs when workers are employed for less hours than they would like at the going wage. The Governor of the Central bank of Australia Philip Lowe in a speech has recently emphasised the importance of underemployment there. It is challenging because underemployment remains above pre-recession levels and seems to be used by firms to keep wages down.
GLO: How to avoid the threatening epidemic of unhappiness and self-destruction?
David G. Blanchflower: Now more than a decade since the onset of recession in advanced countries in 2008 wage growth remains benign. In the UK for example real wages are still 5% below starting levels and have grown more slowly than in any recovery in more than 150 years. Insecurity and the lack of decent paying jobs seems to have a major impact and appease central to the rise of right-wing populist movements, including in the US, France, Italy and Brexit in the UK. Hopelessness, isolation and unhappiness have been on the rise around the world. In the US the rise in deaths of despair – from drug overdoses, heavy drinking and suicide – is of particular concern. Putting the pedal to the metal and running advanced at full-employment, – which still seems a long way off – seems an obvious fix. Stimulative fiscal and monetary policy can lower the unemployment rate a lot more without a big pick-up in wage growth or inflation: then the balance of power will swing back to workers for the first time in decades.