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Because Culture Matters, There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Exit Strategy from Covid-19 Lockdowns

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Because Culture Matters, There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Exit Strategy from Covid-19 Lockdowns

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Yves here. A few days ago, we ran a post on how different the Covid-19 infection rates were in two neighboring Queens communities, Flushing, which has a large Chinese population, and Corona, which is strongly Hispanic. One reader pointed out that the Latin culture likely played a role, with hugging, backslapping, and physical closeness in social interactions common. Looks like he was on to something….

By Jean-Philippe Platteau, Active Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Namur and Vincenzo Verardi, FNRS Associate Researcher; DeFiPP, University of Namur. Originally published at VoxEU

One puzzle that arises in connection with the spread of Covid-19 is why there is such large variation in infection and death rates both across as well as within countries. This column argues that differences in the way people, and in particular different age groups, interact can explain part of this variation. Simulations show that the measures Belgium would need to take when re-opening its economy would be more moderate if it had the same interaction patterns as Germany, and more strict if it had Italy’s interaction patterns. A key lesson is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that could be applied to all countries, or even to all regions within a country.

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