Tag Archives: #lockdown

Interview with Development Economist Asad Islam of Monash University about the challenges of the #coronacrisis for developing economies

The world still struggles about a convincing strategy to handle the #coronavirus crisis. The developed world was affected first, but the forthcoming consequences for the developing countries may be much worse. Some insights from an interview with development economist Asad Islam of Monash University, Australia.

Some core messages of the interview:

  • The impact of COVID-19 is likely to be more severe in developing countries than in developed countries.
  • A temporary lockdown makes it possible to alert people that this is a serious health issue and everybody needs to protect themselves as much as possible.
  • Most developing countries have the capacity to provide three meals a day for its poorest population.
  • Developing countries need to allow their people to leave the lockdown earlier.
  • Our proposal for India suggested a broad-based transfer system, targeting more on poor people and increase the global fiscal stimulus substantially.
  • The pandemic is of more serious concern than initially thought.
  • Issues previously considered to be local ones are now recognized to be of global relevance and have to be addressed by global collaborations.

GLO Fellow Asad Islam is a Professor at the Department of Economics, and Director of the Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) at the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University, Australia.


GLO: What is different with COVID-19 in a developing country than in a developed country?

Asad Islam: In developing countries, we see poorer health infrastructure such as a severe lack of hospital beds, intensive care units are not equipped with proper facilities for COVID-19 patients, missing trained nurses and doctors, lack of awareness among masses of people. Thus, the impact of COVID-19 is likely to be more severe in developing countries than in developed countries.

GLO: Is there no alternative to a complete lockdown of society and economy?

Asad Islam: The temporary lockdown in a developing country is a necessary evil to raise awareness about COVID-19. Social distancing won’t work without it. People have now almost stopped going to temple, mosque, church or social gatherings. This won’t happen without a lockdown! Lockdown needs to be temporary with gradual withdrawal (because of concerns for the poor) while making sure that the people try to maintain social distance (1.5 meter), and wear masks. A temporary lockdown makes it possible to alert people that this is a serious health issue and everybody needs to protect themselves as much as possible.

GLO: But unlike in developed countries, it seems very difficult for the government to financially support people. How can they survive?

Asad Islam: Most developing countries have the capacity to provide safety nets (e.g., providing three meals a day) for its poorest segments of the population. The problem is not lack of resources, but absence of mechanisms to reach the food to these poor people. The food distribution system could be made fairer even within this short period of time and most poor people can be brought under a direct transfer system. Of course, the pressure on the government is huge for maintaining this over a longer period. However, supporting its needy 30-40 percent of the population for 3-6 months using a public food distribution system is not an impossible job. International organizations such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank can also play a supportive role in ensuring this, particularly in countries where we see a serious lack of resources.

GLO: Lockdowns need to end at some time and one needs good statistics. What to do?

Asad Islam: We need to flatten the curve in developing countries, which means one needs to wait when the number of cases is rising rapidly. While the developed country can wait till there is no new case, in developing countries that would be very hard to achieve considering the economic hardship of poor people. One option is to allow the people to start working (for temporary period) who test negative, and younger people (age 20-50) if they do not have any major pre-existing condition.

GLO: With some colleagues you have recently proposed a strategy for India (see for a media report and the full memorandum). What is the message?

Asad Islam: Our main point was to have a broad-based transfer system, targeting more on poor people to enable them to cope with hardship during the lockdown, and increase the fiscal stimulus in manifold to address the economic woes of people.

GLO: Have economists underestimated the dangers of this pandemic?

Asad Islam: I think there were not enough data to begin with, and as it now stands both the number of infection cases and deaths were not reported accurately. As economists rely mostly on numbers there was more support for herd immunity in the beginning as the death rate was very low. However, as more accurate data are coming and we observe higher rate of deaths/infections we have now started to realize that the pandemic is of more serious concern on both health and economic grounds than initially thought.

GLO: How will the coronavirus change development economics?

Asad Islam: The world should now realize more that there are many issues we should not ignore, issues which sometimes we perceive to be the problem of a country or region only. Many problems including poverty and climate change need to be tackled globally and developed countries have more obligations to address them. The global public health issue will remain a serious concern in the coming years, and the problems of developing countries need to be better understood to address these challenges.

With Asad Islam spoke Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO President on April 18, 2020.
Further activities and reports of the GLO Research Cluster on the coronavirus.


In Italy, alternatives to lockdown are inferior. Interview with Alessandro Cigno of the University of Florence.

The world still struggles about a convincing strategy to handle the #coronavirus crisis. Radical alternatives focus around (i) herd immunity and selective social distancing and (ii) a total lockdown of the economy and the entire society. In previous posts the GLO website was reporting about the strategy of lockdown, the societal consequences and the arguments against it, and the alternative Swedish strategy. Today we listen to a feedback from Italy, the country hit hardest first after China.

Some core messages of the interview:

  • The course of the contagion is the same everywhere.
  • Italy is on its way out of the crisis.
  • It started in the most populated North with global connections, affecting the most vulnerable.
  • Italy has an efficient public health system which managed the crisis.
  • The radical lockdown had no alternative and saved very many lives.
  • The missing European solidarity may result in the end of European unification.

GLO Fellow Alessandro Cigno is a Professor of Economics at the University of Florence, and Editor of the Journal of Population Economics.


GLO: The coronacrisis in Italy has become a terrible catastrophe, and there is no end in sight…..

Alessandro Cigno: ….not quite true that there is no end in sight in Italy. The number of contagions has stabilized, and the number of intensive care cases is decreasing , the number cured or dead is larger than the number of new cases…..

GLO: But what can the other countries learn from the Italian experiences? Why was the coronavirus affecting Italy suddenly like a tsunami?

Alessandro Cigno: The course of the contagion is the same everywhere. It just started earlier in Italy.

GLO: Why has the disease largely affected first the North and so much the Old?

Alessandro Cigno: The North is more densely populated and has more intense relations with the rest of the world. The old are more likely to have other pathologies.

GLO: What role played the openness of the country, the strength of the healthcare system and the strong family relationships in the Italian culture? What role played missing data and slow government response?

Alessandro Cigno: Openness facilitated the contagion. Fortunately we have an efficient public health system. But the number of intensive care beds per 1000 inhabitants, while double that of the UK, was initially half of that of France and one third that of Germany. That number has been raised very quickly. Strong family relationships helped the contagion, especially from the young to the old. As Italy was the first to start, the government response was unavoidably tentative (that of other countries who started later had no excuse).

GLO: Italy is strongly related to China through the Belt & Road initiative. Has this played any role?

Alessandro Cigno: The Belt & Road initiative may have played a role.

GLO: Were the radical lockdown measures effective?

Alessandro Cigno: Radical lockdown is estimated to have saved 30 000 lives.

GLO: Did Italy discuss alternatives?

Alessandro Cigno: Alternatives to lockdown were and are discussed, but the scientific and medical consensus is that they are inferior.

GLO: How do Italians react to the missing European solidarity in this crisis?

Alessandro Cigno: Italians are offended by the missing European solidarity and fear that it will be the end of European unification.

With Alessandro Cigno spoke Klaus F. Zimmermann, GLO President.

Related GLO research:
Yun Qiu, Xi Chen & Wei Shi (2020):
Impacts of Social and Economic Factors on the Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China
GLO Discussion Paper, No. 494; Discussion Paper of the Month March.
More Information.

Activities and reports of the GLO Research Cluster on the Coronavirus.


The GLO Discussion Paper of the Month is about the Coronavirus. And access to all GLO DPs of March.

The GLO Discussion Paper of the Month March suggests that the public health measures adopted in China have effectively contained the virus outbreak there already around February 15.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS, EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs downloadable for free.

GLO Discussion Paper of the Month: March

GLO Discussion Paper No. 494, 2020

Impacts of Social and Economic Factors on the Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China
by Qiu, Yun & Chen, Xi & Shi, Wei
PDF of the GLO Discussion Paper

Related interview: #Coronavirus and now? GLO – Interview with Top #Health Economist Xi Chen of Yale University
Other related GLO activities.

GLO Fellows Yun Qiu & Xi Chen & Wei Shi

  • Yun Qiu & Wei Shi are Professors at the Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR), Jinan University, China
  • Xi Chen is a Professor at Yale University & President of the China Health Policy and Management Society

Author Abstract: This paper examines the role of various socioeconomic factors in mediating the local and cross-city transmissions of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in China. We implement a machine learning approach to select instrumental variables that strongly predict virus transmission among the rich exogenous weather characteristics. Our 2SLS estimates show that the stringent quarantine, massive lockdown and other public health measures imposed in late January significantly reduced the transmission rate of COVID-19. By early February, the virus spread had been contained. While many socioeconomic factors mediate the virus spread, a robust government response since late January played a determinant role in the containment of the virus. We also demonstrate that the actual population flow from the outbreak source poses a higher risk to the destination than other factors such as geographic proximity and similarity in economic conditions. The results have rich implications for ongoing global efforts in containment of COVID-19.

GLO Discussion Papers of March 2020

506 The Dynamic Electoral Returns of a Large Anti-Poverty Program – Download PDF
Zimmermann, Laura

505 Do Public Program Benefits Crowd Out Private Transfers in Developing Countries? A Critical Review of Recent Evidence – Download PDF
Nikolov, Plamen & Bonci, Matthew

504 Why Guarantee Employment? Evidence from a Large Indian Public-Works Program – Download PDF
Zimmermann, Laura

503 Wage Setting and Unemployment: Evidence from Online Job Vacancy Data – Download PDF
Faryna, Oleksandr & Pham, Tho & Talavera, Oleksandr & Tsapin, Andriy

502 Sentiment, emotions and stock market predictability in developed and emerging markets – Download PDF
Steyn, Dimitri H. W. & Greyling, Talita & Rossouw, Stephanie & Mwamba, John M.

501 Who’s declining the “free lunch”? New evidence from the uptake of public child dental benefits – Download PDF
Nguyen, Ha Trong & Le, Huong Thu & Connelly, Luke B.

500 Paradise Postponed: Future Tense and Religiosity  Download PDF
Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar & Weber, Clas

499 Game of Prejudice – Experiments at the Extensive and Intensive Margin – Download PDF
Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Mani, Subha & Vecci, Joe & Želinský, Tomáš

498 Welfare Magnets and Internal Migration in China – Download PDF
Jin, Zhangfeng

497 Gender Bias and Intergenerational Educational Mobility: Theory and Evidence from China and India – Download PDF
Emran, M. Shahe & Jiang, Hanchen & Shilpi, Forhad

496 What Do Employers’ Associations Do? – Download PDF
Martins, Pedro S.

495 Does vocational education pay off in China? Instrumental-variable quantile-regression evidence – Download PDF
Dai, Li & Martins, Pedro S.

494 Impacts of Social and Economic Factors on the Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China – Download PDF
Qiu, Yun & Chen, Xi & Shi, Wie

493 Flexible Work Arrangements and Precautionary Behavior: Theory and Experimental Evidence  Download PDF
Orland, Andreas & Rostam-Afschar, Davud

492 Life Satisfaction, Subjective Wealth, and Adaptation to Vulnerability in the Russian Federation during 2002-2017 – Download PDF
Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Abanokova, Kseniya & Lokshin, Michael M.

491 Unobserved Worker Quality and Inter-Industry Wage Differentials – Download PDF
Ge, Suqin & Macieira, João

490 Climate Shocks and Teenage Fertility – Download PDF
Dessy, Sylvain & Marchetta, Francesca & Pongou, Roland & Tiberti, Luca

489 Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Latin American Economies: An Empirical Approach – Download PDF
Doruk, Ömer Tuğsal & Pastore, Francesco & Yavuz, Hasan Bilgehan

488 Employee Training and Firm Performance: Quasi-experimental evidence from the European Social Fund – Download PDF
Martins, Pedro S.

487 France and Germany Exceed Italy, South Korea and Japan in Temperature-Adjusted Corona Proliferation: A Quick and Dirty Sunday Morning Analysis – Download PDF
Puhani, Patrick A.

486 Business visits, technology transfer and productivity growth – Download PDF
Piva, Mariacristina & Tani, Massimiliano & Vivarelli, Marco

485 A Broken Social Elevator? Employment Outcomes of First- and Second-generation Immigrants in Belgium – Download PDF
Piton, Céline & Rycx, François

484 What Does Someone’s Gender Identity Signal to Employers? – Download PDF
Van Borm, Hannah & Dhoop, Marlot & Van Acker, Allien & Baert, Stijn

483 The Future of Work in Developing Economies: What can we learn from the South? – Download PDF
Egana del Sol, Pablo

482 Performance Feedback and Peer Effects – Download PDF
Villeval, Marie Claire

481 Ethnicity differentials in academic achievements: The role of time investments – Download PDF
Nguyen, Ha Trong & Connelly, Luke B. & Le, Huong Thu & Mitrou, Francis & Taylor, Catherine L. & Zubrick, Stephen R.

480 Conversionary Protestants do not cause democracy – Download PDF
Nikolova, Elena & Polansky, Jakub

GLO DP Managing Editor: Magdalena Ulceluse, University of GroningenDP@glabor.org