Simona Bignami-Van Assche, Daniela Ghio, Ari Van Assche, 17 April 2020

It is well understood that COVID-19 severity varies with age. However, little consideration has been given to the differential trend of infections across age groups. By drawing from the Italian experience, this column shows how the effectiveness of strategies to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections crucially depends on workforce demographics. It suggests that restricting the age of essential workers may be useful to mitigate the work–security trade-off while keeping the economy going.

Christian Bayer, Moritz Kuhn, 20 March 2020

There are large differences in case fatality rates from the coronavirus outbreak across countries, from around 6% in Italy to close to zero in some northern European countries (as of 12 March). This column uses World Value Survey data on the share of people aged 30-49 who live with their parents to show that fatality rates are initially higher in countries with more intergenerational interactions. It provides a warning for how important it is for countries where the elderly and the young live close together in particular to try to contain the virus early on.

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