It is about time the government devotes some attention to what the economic consequences of the corona crisis will be, says Anne Gielen, Professor of Labor Economics and Policy at Erasmus School of Economics. ‘The economy must reinvent itself. With a metre and a half alone, we are not going to make it.’
Gielen researched poverty and knows what an economic crisis entails. ‘People who have little income are particularly affected by this crisis. This effect will be seen for generations to come since poverty and lower education are often inherited factors. Children who are not able to attend classes for a while now will probably suffer from this in the future. In some cases, the consequences can still be seen in 30 years' time.’
Gielen believes it is time the government develops a vision for the economy of the future. She also thinks that there should be economists involved in the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), which is currently advising the government. Gielen wishes that during the press conferences there would be one extra person present next the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, Welfare, and Sport: a minister who thinks about how to recover from the crisis and how we can make up for the damage that is done. But Gielen points out that it is a very sensitive issue. ‘People are becoming ill and people are dying. I understand that it can look very insensitive if someone says that we also have to look at what happens to the economy.’
The cost of protection
Nevertheless, the intelligent lockdown is affecting the economy. ‘If this is going to take a very long time, we will have to keep protecting our public health. At the same time, it is important that we ask ourselves to what extent we want this full protection, that is, at what cost? I think the current measures that are installed to help businesses survive only help to fight the symptoms but will not fix the problem. I hope that we can start thinking about ways to slowly get the economy running without risking impacting public health’, says Gielen.