Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

Health, physical & mental

Data: Tiers, jobs and infection rates

2 Maps of England Read more

How is professional football coping with coronavirus?

Playing without spectators prevents football matches from becoming Covid-19 super-spreaders, but it has potentially devastating financial consequences for lower tier clubs. The empty stadiums are also revealing the influence of crowds on refereeing decisions.

Read more

How is coronavirus changing national payment systems for healthcare providers?

Fears of infection have left many people reluctant to go to hospitals and GPs during the pandemic. In many countries, the large reduction in services has put the financial sustainability of healthcare providers at risk under existing payment arrangements.

Read more

Coronavirus, careers and mental health: what are the links?

Maintaining or restoring the mental health of the working age population during the Covid-19 crisis will not only have direct benefits for those affected. It will also have positive side effects for the performance of the UK’s labour market – and ultimately for national wealth.

Read more

The pound-of-flesh fallacy: do lockdowns simply postpone the pain of Covid-19?

There is a common belief that whatever measures are taken to reduce the spread of coronavirus, they are unlikely to reduce the ultimate death toll. But well-designed protective policies could save many lives, as well as buying time for pharmaceutical innovations to counter Covid-19.

Read more

How is Ireland’s healthcare system coping with coronavirus?

Hospital capacity constraints have been a key factor in Ireland’s policy response to Covid-19. But as demand for healthcare continues to grow, and with the risk of a renewed surge of the virus, new thinking will be required to meet healthcare needs and support economic recovery.

Read more

How can public health messages promote compliance with protective measures?

Public buy-in to Covid-19 policies like mask wearing and quarantining remains essential. More effective government communication would frame the potential outcomes from compliance or non-compliance – and target different parts of society with tailored messages.

Read more

Is India’s low Covid-19 fatality rate a good sign?

India’s comparatively low mortality rate among people with Covid-19 has surprised experts. Some have attributed this to the country’s stringent lockdown and testing strategies, but questions are being raised about the reliability of the data and the accuracy of its interpretation.

Read more

Valuing statistical lives: how should such metrics inform pandemic policy-making?

Governments make policy decisions involving trade-offs between different outcomes that vary in their mortality risks. These trade-offs have become more pronounced with Covid-19, which also highlights limitations of some of the metrics used, such as the value of a statistical life.

Read more

Externalities: why do we need coordinated public action in the pandemic?

With infectious diseases like Covid-19, how one person behaves necessarily affects other people’s wellbeing – there are what economists call ‘externalities’. To achieve good overall outcomes for society, it is not enough to rely on individuals’ incentives to protect themselves.

Read more

How prepared was the NHS for coronavirus?

Was the government doing enough to ‘protect the NHS’ in the years leading up to the pandemic? The UK needs a rigorous assessment of whether a national health service that is always operating at full capacity can cope with unexpected shocks like Covid-19.

Read more

How can we know which policies to fight Covid-19 actually work?

Policy-makers, scientists and the public are engaged in heated debates about the right responses to Covid-19. In making decisions on such matters as school re-opening or mandatory mask wearing, we need a way to measure both the benefits and the economic and psychological costs.

Read more

What will coronavirus mean for self-sufficiency in nurse numbers?

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted shortages in the number of workers needed for key roles in health and social care. With nursing being a major shortfall area, analysis of how effectively domestic training and international recruitment can plug the gap is crucial.

Read more

How is coronavirus affecting the mental health of adolescents?

Concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents were growing even before Covid-19 and the recession. Vulnerabilities may be heightened as a consequence of the pandemic, lockdown and widespread uncertainty about the future.

Read more

Do people change their behaviour when face masks are mandatory?

Although face masks reduce the chance of transmission of coronavirus, some governments have been reluctant to make their use mandatory in public places. People’s behaviour is likely to change when wearing masks, but it is uncertain whether the risk of infections will rise or fall.

Read more

Why has social care been so badly hit by Covid-19?

The social care system in England was ill-prepared for coronavirus. Examples of the many weaknesses that have made it harder to protect users include difficulties in acquiring protective equipment and the discharge of hospital patients with Covid-19 into care homes.

Read more

What role does emotion play in our responses to coronavirus?

How we feel has a strong influence on what we do – and perhaps even more so during a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic. An understanding of how emotions function is crucial if we are to guide more effective policy-making. In particular, we must stay alert to the dangers of fear.

Read more

Can behavioural economics help with the enforcement of social distancing?

People’s compliance with lockdown, social distancing instructions and other protective measures are influenced by their beliefs, expectations and concern for others. Insights from behavioural economics can help in the design of effective policies.

Read more

Who complies with social distancing measures in the pandemic?

A key policy response to coronavirus has been the enforcement of social distancing rules, including lockdown. Economic research shows that people’s reactions to restrictions are influenced by differences in social capital, trust in government and political beliefs.

Read more

Is mental health among ethnic minorities worse affected by the pandemic?

Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting the physical and mental health of black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the UK, exacerbating existing inequalities. Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani men have suffered the highest increase in mental distress.

Read more

How might social isolation affect people’s wellbeing during the pandemic?

The policy response to Covid-19 has required the population to isolate themselves from most of their friends and families. While this has been necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus, it carries significant risks for other health and wellbeing issues, particularly mental health.

Read more

Why is Germany's Covid-19 fatality rate comparatively low?

Coronavirus deaths per one million people in Germany are much lower than in France, Italy, Spain and the UK. Explanations include earlier protective measures; an economy better able to accommodate remote work; a well-resourced healthcare system; and high levels of public trust in government.

Read more

Has coronavirus made anyone better off?

Does anybody prefer the state of the world now to how it would be with no pandemic? It seems clear that the severe restrictions on daily life and the risk of getting Covid-19 far outweigh any possible gains, except for a very few people.

Read more

How is coronavirus affecting the provision of free school meals?

The pandemic has required school closures across many countries, disrupting the provision of meals for pupils. What are the risks for children – and their families – who lose access to these programmes? And what could policy-makers do to mitigate the risks?

Read more

Will coronavirus worsen the UK's problem with obesity?

Reducing obesity, particularly in children, has been a major aim of governments for many years. It is likely that lockdown in response to the pandemic has been having the opposite effect – making daily life more sedentary, reducing physical activity and increasing food consumption.

Read more

Why are people in some socio-economic groups more vulnerable to coronavirus?

Covid-19 infections and mortality have been more prevalent among disadvantaged groups of people in the UK and elsewhere. Differences in vulnerability seem to result from a combination of socio-economic differences in exposure to the disease, health behaviours and health conditions.

Read more

What does coronavirus mean for the future of sport and fitness clubs?

With the closure of indoor sports facilities, many people have shifted to alternative forms of exercise. Even after re-opening, this is likely to affect gym owners and staff. Some previous gym users may also be getting less exercise, leading to concerns about rising obesity.

Read more

Can we get accurate short-term forecasts of coronavirus cases and deaths?

In a pandemic, policy-makers need to plan healthcare provision carefully and adjust the intensity of measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. That requires real-time forecasts of cases and deaths that are timely and accurate indicators of what will happen over the next week or so.

Read more

Does environmental damage increase the risk of pandemics?

It has become painfully obvious that humanity has not conquered the threat of infectious diseases. Future health risks may interact with other risks of environmental degradation – including from pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change – to threaten food security and potential global catastrophe.

Read more

What are the long-run economic consequences of pandemics?

Historical epidemics provide only a loose guide to the likely economic impact of coronavirus. What history does suggest is that when they occur in societies already under stress, they can provoke wide-ranging and long-term changes in attitudes, culture and institutions.

Read more

How will the response to coronavirus affect gender equality?

The Covid-19 crisis presents a potentially major setback for gender equality with its effects likely to persist long after lockdown has ended. Why have women borne such a heavy economic and caring burden – and will the negative impact persist?

Read more

How should we allocate limited capacity for coronavirus testing?

Re-opening the economy while minimising infections requires testing – but capacity is limited. To target testing well, policy-makers must consider the types, quality and timing of tests, the costs of errors and the risks of infection across different social groups.

Read more

Sport: what could be the long-term effects of coronavirus?

Professional sports events without spectators look set to be the norm for the foreseeable future. How is this likely to affect the economic viability of clubs, how might fans respond and what are the potential implications for grassroots participation in sport?

Read more

How will the Covid-19 crisis affect the NHS?

The lockdown was implemented largely to ‘save lives and protect the NHS’ amid fears of capacity being overwhelmed. What are likely to be the effects of the crisis on the supply of NHS healthcare, and on demand for healthcare, now and in the future?

Read more

Coronavirus and the economy: what are the trade-offs?

The Covid-19 health emergency has caused economic havoc on a scale not seen in living memory. It is important to understand the interactions between the epidemic and the economy to be able to deal with the difficult trade-offs facing policy-makers and the public.

Read more

How will lockdown and the recession affect children’s health?

The combination of a global health emergency and an economic downturn is unprecedented. But research evidence on the effects of previous crises and other challenging circumstances can shed light on the potential impact of lockdown and the recession on children’s health.

Read more

What are the effects of recessions on health?

An economic downturn affects people’s lives in many ways. Economic research has investigated how recessions affect their health and health behaviour – and how these outcomes vary across different generations and different socio-economic groups.

Read more

Does the Spanish flu offer lessons in how to tackle a pandemic?

The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 – commonly known as the Spanish flu – infected perhaps a third of the world’s population. Many researchers, including economists, are looking back to that experience for insights into the spread of Covid-19 and potential responses.

Read more

How can we encourage medical breakthroughs to combat Covid-19?

Public and private sector organisations across the world are working on vaccines and medicines to fight the coronavirus. What kinds of incentives are most effective in promoting the development of new medical technologies and the rapid manufacture of tests and treatments?

Read more

Funded by

UKRI Economic and Social Research Council
Skip to main content