Social scientists have an important role to play as we consider economics and epidemiology during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Professor Jonathan Portes.
In an article for the Campaign for Social Science, Professor Portes looked at the make up of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) as well as what prominent commentators are saying about whether health or economic issues should be at the forefront of decision-making.
He suggested input on from sociologists and experts on public opinion, as well as virologists and statisticians, would be helpful to fully consider the economic implications, policy responses and public behaviours.
In a Guardian comment piece, he also challenged the theory that a fall in GDP translates into a fall in life expectancy. He said that overall a recession can actually lead to people living longer as, while suicides go up, other causes of death, such as road accidents and alcohol-related disease, fall. In another article he said normal rules do not apply in this current pandemic, so we should be bailing out private companies, as well as increasing national debt to avoid turning a recession into a depression.