Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 18 March 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first time in history that closing entire economies has been used as a medical tool, simultaneously and worldwide. This column argues that such ‘pandonomics’ cannot be repeated during future pandemics that are sure to come – the costs are too heavy. Since lockdowns are very costly, future economic non-pharmaceutical interventions need to be designed more intelligently, helping the economy to restructure and support the transition from a basically ignorant and domestically oriented society into a pandemic-aware one.

Massimiliano Ferraresi, Gianluca Gucciardi, 12 February 2021

In the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, central governments around the world played a central role in defining policy options to combat the pandemic, while the local authorities saw their executive powers temporarily reduced or even cancelled. This column examines the change in policy decisions induced by the pandemic that led to centralised decision-making in Italy. Using an indicator of local governance approval, it investigates the difference between cities politically aligned and non-aligned with the central government before the pandemic, when municipalities enjoyed the usual discretion in policy decisions, and after the COVID-19 outbreak, when decisions were centralised. The findings suggest a public ‘discontent’ with the policy decisions of the central government, which might reflect a sense of a lack of government preparedness against the pandemic.

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