COVID-19 is the greatest global disruption of the past century. Prior to the pandemic, we were seeing gains for international development all over the world, but in the past year and a half, we've seen large setbacks toward those ends. Even as we work to recover, we have a window of opportunity to do more – but only if we make use of the lessons learned and capitalize on emergent innovations sparked by the pandemic. To address this urgent need, the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University created the Beyond COVID initiative, a multi-sectoral approach, rooted in data and evidence, to effectively respond to the COVID development crisis and reimagine new opportunities in the post-COVID era. 

Please view the Beyond COVID brief and/or contact Fay Terrett to request additional information on this initiative.

Beyond COVID Speaker Series

As part of this initiative, we are bringing together practitioners and faculty experts working in development to begin productive conversations on how we can move Beyond COVID and establish a better path forward. Each month, we will focus on key dimensions of COVID response and recovery, sharing podcast interviews and organizing a culminating panel discussion with CID expert faculty and international development practitioners. These discussions will all focus on lessons learned from COVID and how we can use those to create better more resilient systems for the future. 

Each panelist presented unique “dark clouds” and silver linings to the primary discussion on the implications of COVID on the global workforce and how we envision the future of work as we move beyond COVID. A common thread in the panel discussion was the evident move towards dematerialization of the workplace and how we adapt to it: the institutions needed to negotiate equitable working conditions for all, provision of safety net in this new and increasingly atomized world of work, and ways to foster employer-employee relationships and work engagement.

Read more in the full event summary

Each expert on the panel brought a different perspective to the primary discussion on how to make up for pandemic losses and rebuild social welfare as we move beyond COVID. Professor Hanna highlighted the need for coordinated systems for delivering social services, being mindful of how the poor can be included such systems. Dr. Sumarto, drawing from his experiences in Indonesia, recognized the past two years as a period of fiscal crunch and emphasized the impact of investing greater resources in social service delivery. Professor Verguet voiced concerns about the acceleration of inequalities that have resulted from a lack of intersectoral collaboration. The panel came up with the following suggestions, among others, for how to improve social welfare: utilize a registry of citizens, refine coordination of national and local government task forces, and strengthen capacities to generate evidence.

A common thread in the panel discussion was the importance of bringing together sectors, systems, and industries to improve social welfare.

Read more in the full event summary

More generally, COVID has shown us that there is a need for better targeting of stimulus spending in the United States, to rethinking costly, draconian lockdowns in developing countries for little benefit in preventing transmission. Panelists called attention to the digital divide, within and between countries, which threatens to deepen inequalities if left unaddressed.

On a hopeful note, the panel reminded us that the global supply of jobs is not fixed, but can be expanded as countries and industries develop new business models responding to evolving social and economic trends. Inclusive growth is indeed possible if we learn the right lessons and think imaginatively beyond COVID.

Read more in the full event summary

In reference to equity in vaccination campaigns, the panel pointed to several challenges including a focus on ensuring no vaccines go to waste, vaccine nationalism and hoarding patterns, classist vaccination patterns, and marginalized groups falling into governmental blind spots (i.e. vaccinating migrant groups, delivering vaccines to remote areas, etc.). “[COVID] is a unique opportunity and is a unique moment in our history” as Professor Khwaja notes, but it’s important to recognize the immense success we have had during such a tragedy as well: “We can deal with this, we will be better because of this, we will come out stronger.” 

Read more in the full event summary

Professor Khwaja invited panelists to talk about biggest losses to education caused by the pandemic, but also share signs of hope in our response and lessons to take forth

Professor Michela Carlana highlighted the ‘long shadow’ COVID has cast on children’s futures in the labor force. She spoke of digital pedagogy as an innovative response and underlined how the pandemic has taught us the importance of data measurement and evidence-based policy. Ms. Stefania Giannini shared how the pandemic has made education and achieving Sustainable development Goal 4 (SDG 4) an international priority—a designation it has always deserved. She views the important pandemic lessons as inclusion and leaving no student behind, prioritization of data collection on those most at risk of not obtaining education, and the leveraging of technology to serve learners.  Professor Reimers called on the world’s 28,000 universities to consider how to respond to the pandemic’s challenges. While he discussed institutional, pedagogic, and programmatic innovations, he closed by saying that going back to where we were is a poor narrative—we need to excel far past. This understanding a major component to CID’s Beyond COVID initiative.

Read more in this full event summary

Q&A with Gautam Nair: The political dimensions of development and resource distribution
November 2020, Harvard Kennedy School
New faculty member Gautam Nair explores how inequality, politics, and business interact in the developing world to shape resource distribution and create winners and losers.

Covid-19 and the Climate Crisis are Part of the Same Battle
October 2020, The Guardian
To survive the challenges we must reinforce respect for science and nature, sensible public policy and the interconnected world. Jeffrey Frankel for The Guardian. 

The COVID Gender Gap: Why Fewer Women Are Dying
October 2020, Harvard Business School
To promote the greatest safety, public health officials should target their pandemic messaging to men differently than to women. Research by Vincent Pons and colleagues.

The Coming Equity Shortage
October 2020, Project Syndicate
Ricardo Hausmann on how firms that manage to survive until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is available will have a bright future but weak balance sheets. Innovative new private-equity funds could provide much-needed capital – not least in emerging markets.

Zoom and Gloom
October 2020, The Economist
The transition to remote work is welcome. But it will be painful. Growth Lab research on the transition appeared in The Economist.

Inflation Is Higher Than the Numbers Say
September, 2020, New York Times
While government statistics say inflation is low, the reality is that the cost of living has risen during the pandemic, especially for poorer Americans. Alberto Cavallo contributes in the New York Times.

Why Zoom Can’t Save the World
August, 2020, Project Syndicate
Business travel, which used to represent $1.5 trillion a year – about 1.7% of world GDP – has slowed to a trickle. Ricardo Hausmann asserts the economic impact will extend far beyond lost jobs at airlines and in the hospitality industry, and a substantial decline in the transfer of knowledge.

China as Economic Bogeyman
July 2020, Project Syndicate
The objective should be to build more productive, more inclusive economies at home – not simply to outcompete China or try to undercut its economic progress. Dani Rodrik  for Project Syndicate.

Testing Is on the Brink of Paralysis. That’s Very Bad News.
July 2020, New York Times
Jonathan Zittrain for the New York Times sees Covid-19 cases surge to their highest levels in dozens of states, the nation’s testing effort is on the brink of paralysis because of widespread delays in getting back results. 

The Road to COVID-19 Enlightenment
June 30, 2020, Project Syndicate
Ricardo Hausmann says we have yet to identify the best explanations for countries’ varying success in controlling the pandemic in Project Syndicate. But knowledge does not advance just by formulating plausible hypotheses. 

The Post-Pandemic Social Contract
June 11, 2020, Project Syndicate
While many recent proposals for reforming capitalism would substantially change the way our economies operate, they do not fundamentally alter the narrative about how market economies should work; nor do they represent a radical departure for economic policy. Dani Rodrik and Stefanie Stantcheva discuss in Project Syndicate

What Should We Be Preparing For?
May 27, 2020, Project Syndicate
Many developing countries have long maintained fuel subsidies because they are politically impossible to abandon, owing to the sticker shock that the public encounters at the pump as soon as prices are floated. But now that oil prices have reached historic lows, this problem has all but disappeared.  Rema Hanna et al. discuss the opportunity in spending subsidies on pandemic relief and the poor in a Project Syndicate op-ed. 

Spend Fossil-Fuel Subsidies on Pandemic Relief and the Poor
May 19, 2020, Project Syndicate
In today's G-minus-2 world, both the United States and China are providing bad leadership. By further weakening the internal cohesion of the world’s leading powers, the COVID-19 crisis threatens to leave the world even more rudderless, unstable, and conflict-prone. Arvind Subramanian discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on our global leadership structure in a new article for Project Syndicate.

Preventing a COVID-19 Food Crisis
May 15, 2020, Project Syndicate
The pandemic is amplifying the risk of a world-wide food-price spike, which would trigger outright crises in many developing countries. CID Affiliate Carmen Reinhart and  Rob Subbaraman urge global policy coordination to address the risk of disruptions to food supply chains in Project Syndicate. 

The Threat of Enfeebled Great Powers
May 6, 2020, Project Syndicate
In today's G-minus-2 world, both the United States and China are providing bad leadership. By further weakening the internal cohesion of the world’s leading powers, the COVID-19 crisis threatens to leave the world even more rudderless, unstable, and conflict-prone. Arvind Subramanian discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on our global leadership structure in a new article for Project Syndicate.  

Will COVID-19 Remake the World?
April 6, 2020, Project Syndicate
No one should expect the pandemic to alter – much less reverse – tendencies that were evident before the crisis. Dani Rodrik discusses the uncertain future in Project Syndicate.

Universities can be midwife to a post-pandemic education renaissance
June 2020,  Times Higher Education
Steering the innovation currently taking place in educational institutions could have major long-term benefits, says Fernando Reimers.

Restarting Under Uncertainty: Managerial Experiences from Around the World 
June 14, 2020,  Harvard Business Week
How should businesses start to design their “new normal” at this time of heightened uncertainty? Research from Raffaella Sadun et al. reveals how business leaders are adapting to the COVID threat with a survey across countries & industries.

What a successful economic recovery plan must look like 
June 16, 2020,  Wall Street Journal.  
Jason Furman  with coauthors Timothy Geithner Glenn Hubbard and Melissa S. Kearney presents a four-part plan for fixing the economy in the Wall Street Journal.  

What’s in a Recession?
June 15, 2020,  Project Syndicate
Jeffrey Frankel explores the meaning behind NBER's recent determination of the official start date for the current recession in the United States. 

Social Protection in Fragile States
June 11, 2020,  IGC Policy Brief  
Rema Hanna discusses the importance of social protection policies in addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19 in fragile states & makes suggestions on how policymakers can overcome the challenges of implementing them.

The Political Economy of Economic Policy
June 2020, Finance & Development IMF The COVID-19 pandemic strikingly illustrates the intersection of politics, economics, and other considerations. Jeffry Frieden says we should pay closer attention to the interactions between politics, economics, and other realms. 

The Long View: What COVID-19 Means for Inequality
June 4, 2020, Harvard Political Review
Director Asim Khwaja and CID Expert David Demmings quoted on the likelihood of exasperating existing inequality trends far into the future, especially in education, gender, and international development.

What Should We Be Preparing For?
May 27, 2020, Project Syndicate
Ricardo Haussman shares insights on the importance of preparation in Project Syndicate. "For humanity, this is a 'whatever it takes' moment."

What makes cities vulnerable to COVID-19? Concentrated poverty, says econ professor
May 28, 2020, KCRW
Can New York and other cities survive this pandemic? KCRW’s Warren Olney speaks with Harvard economics professor Ed Glaeser and former New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. 

Dissecting coronavirus economic impact and recovery options
May 7, 2020, HKS Insights & Resources
David Deming, Karen Dynan, Rema Hanna, and Dani Rodrik share their policy insights on a safe economic recovery from COVID-19 with the Harvard Kennedy School. 

The Threat of Enfeebled Great Powers
May 6, 2020, Project Syndicate
Arvind Subramanian discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on our global leadership structure in a new article for Project Syndicate.  

In the Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, We Must Go Big. Really, Really Big.
May 4, 2020, NYTimes
Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer co-authored an opinion piece for the NYTimes with three other economics professors about thinking and investing ambitiously in a COVID vaccine. 

Insight: Don't forget the middle class in social protections programs
April  16, 2020, Jakarta Post
CID EPoD Faculty Director Rema Hanna coauthors an op-ed on expanding social protections in Indonesia to include the middle and lower-middle class. 

Cushioning the Poor from the COVID-19 Shock
April  15, 2020
Expanding social protection to reach vulnerable people quickly must be a pillar of every country’s COVID-19 strategy. Director of EPoD Rema Hanna and Benjamin Olken discuss research in Project Syndicate.

First research findings measure COVID-19 prevalence in U.S. prisons, jails
April  6, 2020
Marcella Alsan, Crystal Yang, and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care launched first detailed survey on the effects of COVID-19 on correctional facilities in the US, covering more than 320 facilities in 47 states.

Public Leadership Through Crisis Blog Series
April 2020
In a series of blog posts, Building State Capability Faculty Director Matt Andrews shares ideas for leaders questioning how they can help and what kind of leadership is required in crises.

Q&A on COVID-19 with Faculty Director Rema Hanna
March 25, 2020, EPoD
Director of EPoD Rema Hanna provides her expertise as a development economist to answer questions on the economic impacts of a pandemic, like the novel coronavirus, and the resulting effects for developing countries.

Flattening the COVID-19 Curve in Developing Countries
March 24, 2020, Project Syndicate
Ricardo Haussman proposes four measures that would help the Global South fight the pandemic and mitigate its economic fallout.


Dean's Discussion on COVID-19: Effects in Developing Countries
July 22, 2020, Harvard Kennedy School
Four Harvard Kennedy School scholars, including faculty affiliates Rema Hanna and Eliana Carranza, offered a worrying picture of the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on developing countries and an equally daunting assessment of the medium-term outlook. 

STAT+ Conversations: A discussion with Dr. Ashish Jha
June 16, 2020, STAT+ Video
“We may be done with a pandemic, but the pandemic is not done with us,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Post-Pandemic Order with Meghan O'Sullivan 
May 28, 2020, Out of Order Podcast
O'Sullivan discusses the coronavirus and disruptions in the global energy market, the pandemic’s effect on energy trends, the international energy transition, the state of international cooperation on energy issues, and more.

Melissa Dell On Security And Prosperity
May 28, 2020, NPR
Economist Melissa Dell was recently named this year's winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, which goes to the best economist under 40 who is working in the U.S. 

Nearing 100,000 COVID-19 Deaths, U.S. Is Still 'Early In This Outbreak'
May 26, 2020, NPR
An aggressive testing, tracing & isolation program allows us to have more of our lives back without the number of deaths that we've suffered. Listen to CID Expert Ashish Jha on NPR discussing the course of the pandemic.

COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu, El-Rufai, Obaseki And Others Give Frontline Account At FSDH Group Webinar Series
May 27, 2020, Nigeria Channels TV
A conversation between experts, featuring CID Director Asim I. Khwaja, shedding light on the impacts of Covid-19 in Nigeria so far and on the best path forward. 

The Briefing Room (Podcast): Coronavirus and the Economy
May 7, 2020, BBC News UK
Jeff Frankel looks at lessons from history to understand COVID-19. He spoke with BBC News UK, beginning around 11:44, discussing the possibility of a W-shaped recession and the need to gradually ease out of lockdowns.

Podcast: Former CEA Arvind Subramanian on India’s Economic Response to the Covid-19 crisis
May 6, 2020, HindustanTimes
Arvind Subramanian discusses India’s economic response to the COVID-19 crisis in his latest podcast 

Keynote: A Human-Centered Trading System
April 15, 2020, Global Solutions Summit
Dani Rodrik served as the keynote speaker for Global Table on Trade, Investment, and Growth at the Digital Global Solutions Summit advising the G20 on creating human-centered trading systems amidst COVID-19.

Lockdown Fatigue: The Diminishing Effects of Quarantines on the Spread of COVID-19
March 2021, Working Paper
Growth Lab researchers conduct an empirical analysis of the impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention policies on the virus’ transmission and death toll, for a panel of 152 countries, from the start of the pandemic through December 31, 2020.

The Economic Case for Global Vaccinations: An Epidemiological Model with International Production Networks
February 2021,  Publication
This publication from Growth Lab researchers shows that the global GDP loss of not inoculating all the countries, relative to a counterfactual of global vaccinations, is higher than the cost of manufacturing and distributing vaccines globally.

Economics of Covid-19 in three sub‑Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa
February 2021,  Publication
This eBook from Ricardo Hausmann and coauthor summarises recent research on the economic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa covering a wide array of topics focusing on the response of firms, households, governments, and international organisations.

Covid-19 in Morocco: Labor Market Impacts and Policy Responses
December 2020, Morocco Employment Lab with Evidence for Policy Design
The Covid-19 in Morocco: Labor Market Impacts and Policy Responses report presents an analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the Moroccan economy, focusing on labor markets. 

Gender Differences in COVID-19 Attitudes and Behavior: Panel Evidence from Eight Countries 
November 2020, Research Article
CID Affiliate Vincent Pons new research calls for gender-based public health policies and communication in the public health response to COVID-19. 

Projecting Unemployment Durations: A Factor-Flows Simulation Approach With Application to the COVID-19 Recession 
September 2020, Working Paper
CID Affiliate Gabriel Chodorow-Reich and John Coglianese propose a three-step factor-flows simulation-based approach to forecast the duration distribution of unemployment.

Horrible Trade-offs in a Pandemic: Lockdowns, Transfers, Fiscal Space, and Compliance
August 2020, The Growth Lab
In this paper, Ricardo Hausmann and Ulrich Schetter develop a heterogeneous agent general equilibrium framework to analyze optimal joint policies of a lockdown and transfer payments in times of a pandemic. 

Trust in State and Nonstate Actors: Evidence from Dispute Resolution in Pakistan
July 2020, The University of Chicago
Asim Khwaja et al. find that (truthful) information about reduced delays in state courts in rural Pakistan leads to citizens reporting higher likelihood of using them. This paper investigates whether information about improved public services can help build trust in state institutions and move people away from nonstate actors. 

Messages on COVID-19 Prevention in India Increased Symptoms Reporting and Adherence to Preventive Behaviors Among 25 Million Recipients with Similar Effects on Non-recipient Members of Their Communities
July 2020, NBER Working Paper
During a health crises like COVID-19, individuals are inundated with health messaging. Emily Breza, Marcella Alsan, et al. investigate whether additional light-touch messaging by a credible individual changes behavior in NBER.

Optimising SARS-CoV-2 pooled testing for low-resource settings
June 08, 2020, The Lancet
Several policy proposals to suppress severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been supporting mass individual testing in the USA and other countries. Director Asim Khwaja et al. discuss research finding that group testing offers a viable alternative. 

The EU must support the member at the centre of the COVID-19 crisis (Chapter 5)
March 18, 2020, VoxEu
Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi  publish a chapter in a new open-access book on COVID. Free to download online: Mitigating the COVID Economic Crisis: Act Fast and Do Whatever It Takes.

Protecting people now, helping the economy rebound later (Chapter 21)
March 18, 2020, VoxEu
James Furman  publishes a chapter in a new open-access book on COVID. Free to download online: Mitigating the COVID Economic Crisis: Act Fast and Do Whatever It Takes.

Toward a Global Response to COVID-19 (Education)
April 2020, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Fernando Reimers, Andreas Schleicher, Jaime Saavedra, and Saku Tuominen author an online guide of resources to support the continuity of teaching and learning during the 2019-20 COVID-19 Pandemic.  

Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic
April 2020, Stanford
David Yang et al. share their research on partisan differences of social distances during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you want additional information on this initiative, please contact us.

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