Does ‘Economic Revival’ from Coronavirus Pandemic Depend on ‘Recklessness in Human Behavior’?

A recent article in The Economist mentions that Coronavirus fears are taking a heavy toll on Britain’s economy. One of the primary reasons is that despite largely similar infection rates, the people in the country are relatively slower to venture outside than the rest of Europe. For example, as per a survey, only a third of British professionals had returned to their offices, compared with around three-quarters of those on the continent. Compared with residents of other European cities, London’s workers are more likely still to be working remotely.

Fig. 1: Mobility and its linkage with recovery

If we compare the trends globally and if this conclusion is valid that ‘speed of revival’ depends on how ‘risk-taking’ people are, this most likely means a few things;

  1. What you call ‘recklessness’ may be bad for people’s health, but that is very good for recovery. Less ‘risk averse’ people are, faster the recovery would be. If you go by the reports that several people in USA are even against wearing a mask and get offended when reminded about the same, the recovery will be much faster in USA.
  2. More disciplined people are and more they listen to authorities, that will actually be bad for recovery. For example, expect Japan to recover much later. In comparison, the more outgoing people are and more they are interested in ‘sports events’, that could be helpful in recovery. For example, this may be the case in many countries in continental Europe and Australia.
  3. Many companies have actually reported that ‘Work from home’ has actually led to increased productivity or at least the ‘efficiency’ has not suffered much. That is bad for broader recovery. If the companies and other organizations have no incentive to get people back in their office physically, ‘work from home’ will continue for longer and that is also bad for recovery.
  4. Many tech giants such as Google have extended the ‘work from home’ till June next year and there are many reports that some of them may even remain permanently in ‘work from home’ mode, that is not actually good for recovery. The longer people remain in a changed ‘routine’ or ‘lifestyle’, more it is likely that may not return to the original ways, that will again be bad for recovery.
  5. The demographics could also play a big role. In general, the younger population is more likely to be more willing to travel and venture outside. Since they may indulge in more ‘high-risk behaviour’ typically, this should apply to their willingness to how quickly they can put the ‘Covid-19’ fears aside. This could help two of the most populous countries in the world, China and India.

Research Team
EM Alpha LLC

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