COVID-19 sheds light on the need for science-informed policies. Yet, scientists and decision-makers operate with different mindsets and timelines. Decision-makers find scientific proposals too slow, unidimensional and lacking opportunity cost analysis (I talked about this here). Scientists complain about the lack of political will of decision-makers to implement their solutions. Political scientist Selim Louafi unpacks this challenge in “Biodiversity science and decision-making: a relationship to build”. He looks at the role of expert panels on environmental issues and his recommendations are: don’t work independently from decision-makers, bring in social scientists, and expand your target audience beyond national legislators to influence mayors, business leaders and consumers. He argues that scientific neutrality is a myth as scientists are political when they choose their research objects, frameworks and institutional affiliations. He calls for expert panels to be multidisciplinary and engage local decision-makers. And he shows how this works in practice for a global research project on plant genetic resources.
Thinking about risk, work, and gender, I was first struck by data showing that more women than men were essential frontline workers and, thus, more exposed to health risk on the job (see here for US figures). Then, I noticed many articles on how female-led governments dealt with the crisis more effectively than men-led ones. And today, this FT article showed how female-led hedge funds outperformed men-led ones through the crisis. But I could not find research on the gender aspect of risk-management leadership capabilities. Evidence needed.
This graph from Politico ranks countries based on how well they did on the economic and health fronts in response to COVID-19. Economic performance aggregates GDP, unemployment, and fiscal stimulus data. Health performance is based on testing, infection, and death data. Vietnam is at the top.
This quote is from economist Thomas Piketty [my translation]: “The most interesting method [to rapidly reduce public debt] which has also been the most successful historically is Germany and Japan implementing an exceptional levy on the highest private wealths after the Second World War. […] Public debt which was 200% of GDP dropped to under 20% of GDP in a few years. This gave more leeway to invest in rebuilding, public infrastructure and education. And it greatly contributed to economic growth during the post-war boom era in these two countries.”