Economists’ stance on lockdowns is WEIRD

Most economists argue that there is no ‘health versus economics’ dichotomy. A widely shared article by Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck, and Emil Verner on the 1918 Spanish flu “suggest[s] that pandemics can have substantial economic costs, and NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions] can lead to both better economic outcomes and lower mortality rates”. Sam Bowman and Martin Eichenbaum, Sergio Rebelo and Mathias Trabandt believe that shutdowns are worth the lives saved, despite the costs.


On the other hand, Michael Burry and Toby Young think that governments are overreacting. Lockdowns cause disproportionate damage to people’s lives.

All of these commentators base their recommendations on the U.S. or Western Europe. But the best response to Covid-19 might be very different in the rest of the world. Not just food affordability, but also demographics and the effectiveness of measures to contain the virus differ greatly between countries. Economists are WEIRD.

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