Whilst many of us have been staying at home these past few weeks, unable to grasp the influx of information from the Czech and foreign media, it has been the IDEA anti COVID-19 project run by the IDEA think tank that has helped to ease the tension with their explanatory studies on the issues related to the coronavirus outbreak. Many CERGE-EI faculty members, students, and alumni gathered in the blink of an eye to actively participate and contribute with their knowledge to launch the project in early March. Since then, the studies have been covered by the leading newspapers, online journals, and public broadcasters in the Czech media. To see the CERGE-EI community mobilize this quickly and use their voice to formulate recommendations for others is truly wonderful, and therefore we asked our Phd in Economics students, who also had their say in the studies, to share their experiences on the project with us.
Vladimír Novák: First of all, I would like to point out how honored I am to be able to participate in the IDEA Anti COVID-19 initiative. I have been captivated to observe the enthusiasm with which everyone immediately dedicated his/her time and skills and contributed to the shared knowledge of what steps should and might be taken in this unprecedented situation.
My role in this initiative was minor, though. Right from the very beginning, I helped with the translation of the first text into Czech, I contributed with researching some topics and my main involvement was in the study done in collaboration with the Behavio Labs start-up company, where we investigated how to best communicate the government’s social distancing regulations.
One of the obstacles I faced when working on the initiative, unsurprisingly, was the lack of time, which I have been battling a lot ever since. I would love to work much more on COVID-19-related topics, but I also have to focus on finishing my dissertation and on the successful defense. However, I hope to finish everything soon and to again be available for the Anti COVID-19 project.
Editorial note: Vlado has recently given an interview to the Czech Academy of Sciences where he spoke about the project and the coronavirus outbreak in general. You can read the interview in Czech here.
Kristína Hrehová: For the IDEA Anti Covid-19 project, I am currently working on the literature review to further formulate the effects of the economic crisis on health and mortality, and also how the abolition of company branches has affected the two variables. Yesterday, I accepted an offer to analyze long-term data on life with the pandemic in the Czech Republic. So far, I have dealt with the issue of how to structure the overview of literature for the public as clearly as possible. At first glance, the literature looked like two contradictory streams of information, but I gradually found topics on which there was consensus and recommendations could be drawn from them. As for my personal experience, I’m very pleased to be able to use the experience I have gained over the past few years at CERGE-EI, by writing literature reviews and analyzing the data for such a socially beneficial project.
Jan Žemlička: My role was minor as well. So far, as a research assistant for Filip Matějka, I’ve been involved in collecting policy papers that show best practices from around the world. One of the best practices was, for instance, the fiscal reaction of the central government. The article (Brookings Institution) showed why the most effective fiscal policy strategy is to directly support small and medium-sized businesses and households (corporate loans, insurance and tax deferrals, …) in order to prevent a sudden rise in unemployment and chain bankruptcies. Right now, I am working on conducting the first check of one of the proposed dynamic models.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us! You can find all IDEA Anti COVID-19 studies here.