As governments around the world seek to respond rapidly and appropriately to the impacts of COVID-19, it can be beneficial to look back at responses to similar global systemic shocks. This can reveal relevant lessons, ranging from public health measures to policies for reducing the economic costs. This rapid literature review looks at lessons learned from efforts to mitigate the negative economic impacts of prior epidemics and the COVID-19 pandemic, and financial crises.
The focus is on inclusive growth measures and geographically on middle-income countries, although lessons are also drawn from and applicable to lower- and higher-income countries. These secondary economic impacts are explained in detail in a companion paper (Lucas, 2020), which provides a breakdown of impacts, by industry/sector, type of shock, and affected demographic.
As discussed in a prior literature review on evidence and lessons learned to mitigate the secondary impact of disease outbreaks (Kelly, 2020), there is limited robust evidence on responses to the secondary effects. While, there is a range of literature to draw upon that discusses interventions to mitigate the economic impacts of epidemics and financial crises and lessons learned, they rarely extend to quantitative findings or to clear attribution of measures to specific outcomes. This report nonetheless reveals useful lessons from prior disease outbreaks and financial crises to address the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 disruptions and to promote inclusive growth. Policy and programme interventions fall under: health and preparedness; monetary policy and support to the financial sector; and fiscal policy and social protection. It is important that policies and programmes are carefully designed to mitigate immediate and short-term impacts with a view to promoting, or at a minimum, not undermining longer-term economic recovery. Where possible, this complementarity or tension between the short- and long-term is noted in the various interventions discussed in this paper.