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  • Author: Gemma Dipoppa, Guy Grossman, Stephanie Zonszein
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
  • Abstract: Covid-19 caused a significant health and economic crisis, a condition identified as conducive to stigmatization and hateful behavior against minority groups. It is however unclear whether the threat of infection triggers violence in addition to stigmatization, and whether a violent reaction can happen at the onset of an unexpected economic shock before social hierarchies can be disrupted. Using a novel database of hate crimes across Italy, we show that (i) hate crimes against Asians increased substantially at the pandemic onset, and that (ii) the increase was concentrated in cities with higher expected unemployment, but not higher mortality. We then examine individual, local and national mobilization as mechanisms. We find that (iii) local far-right institutions motivate hate crimes, while we find no support for the role of individual prejudice and national discourse. Our study identifies new conditions triggering hateful behavior, advancing our understanding of factors hindering migrant integration.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Minorities, Violence, Far Right, Hate Speech, COVID-19, Racism, Hate Groups
  • Political Geography: United States, Italy, Global Focus
  • Author: Ina Lehmann, César Rodríguez Garavito, Anna Spenceley
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a global human health crisis that is deeply intertwined with the global biodiversity crisis. It originated when a zoonotic virus spilled over from wild animals to humans. Viruses can spread easily in disturbed ecosystems, and with increasing contact between humans and wildlife the risk of contagion grows. Conservation is crucial to reduce the risks of future pandemics, but the current pandemic also impacts on conservation in many ways. In this Briefing Paper we suggest strategies to alleviate the pandemic’s adverse effects on conservation in the Global South. Many zoonoses originate there, and livelihoods are strongly dependent on natural resources. The paper considers the pandemic’s overarching economic implica-tions for protected and other conserved areas, and specific ramifications for the tourism and wildlife trade sectors, which are closely related to these areas. As economies shrink, natural resources come under pressure from various sides. Financial resources are reallocated from the conservation to the health sector, countries decrease environmental protection standards to boost economic recovery, and poor people in rural regions resort to protected wild resources as a subsistence strategy. Together, these trends speed up the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and create supportive conditions for the emergence of zoonotic disease and the undermining of livelihoods.
  • Topic: Environment, Natural Resources, Nature, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Valeria Branca
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The second Infrastructure Working Group workshop under the Italian G20 PPresidency, titled “Financing infrastructure investments for local communities”, was hosted on 4 February 2021 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). As the world gradually recovers from the pandemic crisis, most governments are designing strategies to revive long-term growth. A key factor in their success will be the capacity to restart and reorient infrastructure investments. In this context, investments in local infrastructures are particularly important because social needs, work habits and production patterns have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, whose impact has been most severe on urban areas, the informal sector and marginalised groups – especially in developing countries. Investments in local infrastructures will therefore be crucial in addressing the need to sustain recovery while tackling long-standing problems posed by climate change and social exclusion.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Sustainable Development Goals, Investment, Coronavirus, Sustainability, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rachel Kleinfeld, Thomas Carothers, Steven Feldstein, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Middle-power democracies—countries which regardless of their geopolitical weight have made democracy support a sustained component of their foreign policy—will be crucial to reimagining democracy support strategies and policies to better meet the moment. Some of these states have crafted new initiatives and wielded diplomatic tools to deepen their impact in recent years. However, these states have on the whole punched below their collective weight. This paper suggests that middle-power democracies can maximize their impact on global democracy in the following ways: Enhancing solidarity: when a country acts courageously in defense of democracy, it needs to know that others will stand alongside it. Sharpening their focus: middle-power democracies should target policy areas aligned with democratic values on issues both at the top of the geopolitical agenda and at the top-of-mind for citizens around the world—for example, economic recovery, injustice and discrimination, corruption, digital repression, and climate change. Improving diplomatic cooperation: pursuing flexible and focused multilateral partnerships allows for collaboration on key policy interests and amplifies middle-power actions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Democracy, Solidarity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Jimena Leiva Roesch
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity are among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles. One challenge is the lack of a shared understanding of what universal connectivity means. It is not just a technical challenge; it also requires addressing questions related to adoption, usage, accessibility, and the relevance and veracity of content. Another challenge is that funding for digital connectivity is uncoordinated and not easily accessible by those who need it most. There is also a lack of concerted leadership and coherent governance structures at all levels. Moreover, getting the framing right is key. National, global, and local leaders need to establish clear and compelling links between universal connectivity and the 2030 Agenda with its message to “leave no one behind.” Addressing these challenges requires a human-centered, human rights–based approach. Connectivity comes with risks, including privacy issues, misinformation and hate speech, and online violence and sexual harassment. While discussions on universal connectivity have gained momentum, these human rights considerations often remain an afterthought. Governments, businesses, and civil society need to understand connectivity as a right whose protection is their shared responsibility. Ultimately, bridging the digital divide requires a stronger and more inclusive multilateral system. Geopolitics, a lack of shared understanding, knowledge gaps, and suspicion between actors continue to hold back digital cooperation at the UN. Governments need to meaningfully include private sector and civil society actors in formal decision-making processes. In parallel, the UN should create informal platforms to build trust among stakeholders. To achieve meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion, all actors need to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Science and Technology, Sustainable Development Goals, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Maryna Tverdostup
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has highly asymmetric effects on labour market outcomes of men and women. In this paper, we empirically investigate the dynamics and drivers of gender gaps in employment rates, wages and workhours during the pandemic. Relying on Estonian Labour Force Survey data, we document that the pandemic has, if anything, reduced gender inequality in all three domains. Our results suggest that, while the evolution of inequalities mirrored the infection rate development – rising as infections mounted and declining as the first wave flattened – overall, the pandemic did not exacerbate gender gaps in 2020. The cyclical increases in gender disparities were largely driven by parenthood, as child-rearing women experienced a major decline in their employment rate and workhours, as well as gender segregation in the most affected industries. The higher propensity to work from home and better educational attainments of women deterred gender wage gap expansion, as wage returns to telework and education rose during the pandemic. Our results suggest no systematic expansion of gender gaps, but rather short-term fluctuations. However, labour market penalties for women with young children and women employed in those industries most affected by COVID-19 may last longer than the pandemic, threatening to widen gender inequality in the long run.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Employment, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Hellwig, Viola Priesemann, Guntram Wolff
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Escape variants can cause new waves of COVID-19 and put vaccination strategies at risk. To prevent or delay the global spread of these waves, virus mobility needs to be minimised through screening and testing strategies, which should also cover vaccinated people. The costs of these strategies are minimal compared to the costs to health, society and economy from another wave.
  • Topic: Health, Governance, Global Political Economy, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simon Happersberger, Eleanor Mateo, Selcukhan Ünekbas
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies have negative consequences on the climate change, public budgets and and the transition to an environmentally friendly economy. Nevertheless, governments do not keep up with their commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies but misallocate again COVID-19 recovery funds in fossil fuel subsidies. This article provides an analysis of the current obstacles for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and the potential of the WTO to advance a reform on fossil fuel subsidies. It argues that the WTO can contribute to a fossil fuel subsidies reform by its technical expertise in regulating subsidies, by its broad membership and by its institutional setting. Under the current framework of the ASCM, WTO member can use existing mechanisms, such as the TPRM, to increase transparency in the short term and facilitate discussions on the scope of subsidies while mitigating impacts on vulnerable groups or sectors. This would provide the ground for governments to work towards a new and ambitious agreement to stop producer fossil fuels subsidies and phase out consumer fossil fuels subsidies in the mid-to-long-term. However, the phase out of consumer subsidies needs to be carefully designed and embedded, to avoid unintended consequences on energy access and vulnerable households.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Trade, Fossil Fuels, COVID-19, WTO, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paige Arthur, Céline Monnier
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: After experimenting with months of lockdown and imposed social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere now have a more immediate understanding of how prolonged crisis can create challenges for both individuals’ mental health as well as maintaining the social fabric of communities. However, social fragmentation and mental distress created by adverse environments are not new, nor are they limited to COVID-19. Gross social injustices or armed conflicts have provoked wide-spread mental suffering, broken down social norms, and undermined social cohesion since time immemorial. Generations grow up in the midst of violence, normalizing it, or losing capacity to trust others or their institutions. Hence, neglecting the psychosocial impacts of social injustices and violence on the individual and society undermines other efforts to build peaceful societies. Nevertheless, the use of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) approaches to build peace or prevent violent conflict remains anecdotal and ad hoc. This paper summarizes the existing arguments for why MHPSS should be more systematically used to sustain peace, and offers four opportunities to use MHPSS approaches in sustaining peace efforts at the UN: Support national capacities; Integrate MHPSS as a normal part of sustaining peace strategies; Increase expertise on MHPSS as part of sustaining peace; Creative partnerships to support an integrated approach.
  • Topic: Mental Health, Peace, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Bayerlein, Vanessa A. Boese, Scott Gates, Katrin Kamin, S. Mansoob Murshed
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: Populist parties and actors now govern various countries around the world. Often elected by the public in times of crises and over the perceived failure of ‘the elites’, the question stands as to how populist governments actually perform once elected, especially in times of crisis. Using the pandemic shock in the form of the COVID-19 crises, our paper answers the question of how populist governments handle the pandemic. We answer this question by introducing a theoretical framework according to which populist governments (1) enact less far-reaching policy measures to counter the pandemic and (2) lower the effort of citizens to counter the pandemic, so that populist governed countries are (3) hit worse by the pandemic. We test these propositions in a sample of 42 countries with weekly data from 2020. Employing econometric models, we find empirical support for our propositions and ultimately conclude that excess mortality in populist governed countries exceeds the excess mortality of conventional countries by 10 percentage points (i.e., 100%). Our findings have important implications for the assessment of populist government performance in general, as well as counter-pandemic measures in particular, by providing evidence that opportunistic and inadequate policy responses, spreading misinformation and downplaying the pandemic are strongly related to increases in COVID-19 mortality.
  • Topic: Governance, Populism, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paul von Chamier
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: There is nothing equal about COVID-19. It is now well established that poor and underprivileged social groups have absorbed most of the pandemic’s negative impact. However, the connection between COVID-19 and inequality might run even deeper. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, one additional point of the Gini coefficient correlated with a 1.34 percentage point higher rate of weekly new infections across countries. This difference in infection rates compounds like interest every week. This means that after twenty-one weeks of the pandemic, just one additional Gini å correlates with an approximately 1/3 higher overall number of cases in a country. More equal countries might enjoy an “equality dividend” that is associated with more shock resilience during the ongoing crisis. This new research from CIC sought to understand if pre-existing systemic inequities could be linked to higher COVID-19 infection rates, examining infection rates in 70 countries from mid-March 2020 through early August 2020, or what is widely seen as the first 21 weeks of the pandemic. It also studied these nations’ levels of inequality and other potential predictive variables: government efficiency (a measure indicating quality of public services and civil service capability), urban population share, share of the population over the age of 65, lockdown measures (calculated by stringency), and geographic mobility (a population’s physical movements as measured by Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports). The study tracked inequality by using the “Gini Coefficient,” a commonly used metric for measuring income inequality within nations--or, specifically, how far a country’s wealth or income distribution deviates from a completely equal distribution. Under this calculation, the higher the coefficient, the greater the income inequality within that country.
  • Topic: Inequality, Resilience, COVID-19, Health Crisis, Society
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Attiya Waris
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: There are multiple examples of solidarity taxes imposed across country contexts over previous decades. The solidarity taxes that were levied were done to mitigate effects of a crisis such as a pandemic, as well as rebuilding of nations that had been affected by world wars (examples include Zimbabwe and Germany). Considering the renewed interest in solidarity taxes in the wake of COVID-19, author Attiya Waris reviews the history of solidarity taxes, and discusses key lessons from the past, in addition to drawing these lessons and findings into policy reccomendations moving forward.
  • Topic: Tax Systems, Pandemic, COVID-19, Economic Recovery
  • Political Geography: Germany, Zimbabwe, Global Focus
  • Author: Servaas Storm
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Based on comparative empirical evidence for 22 major OECD countries, I argue that country differences in cumulative mortality impacts of SARS-CoV-2 are largely caused by: (1) weaknesses in public health competence by country; (2) pre-existing country-wise variations in structural socio-economic and public health vulnerabilities; and (3) the presence of fiscal constraints. The paper argues that these pre-existing conditions, all favorable to the coronavirus, have been created, and amplified, by four decades of neoliberal macroeconomic policies – in particular by (a) the deadly emphasis on fiscal austerity (which diminished public health capacities, damaged public health and deepened inequalities and vulnerabilities); (b) the obsessive belief of macroeconomists in a trade-off between ‘efficiency’ and ‘equity’, which is mostly used to erroneously justify rampant inequality; (c) the complicit endorsement by mainstream macro of the unchecked power over monetary and fiscal policy-making of global finance and the rentier class; and (d) the unhealthy aversion of mainstream macro (and MMT) to raising taxes, which deceives the public about the necessity to raise taxes to counter the excessive liquidity preference of the rentiers and to realign the interests of finance and of the real economy. The paper concludes by outlining a few lessons for a saner macroeconomics.
  • Topic: Global Recession, Economic Inequality, Macroeconomics, Austerity, Public Health, COVID-19, Health Crisis, Public Spending
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Thierry Mayer, Hillel Rapoport, Camilo Umana Dajud
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: Many of the measures to contain Covid-19 severely reduced business travel. Using provisions to ease the movement of business visitors in trade agreements, we show that removing barriers to the movement of business people promotes trade. To do this, we first document the increasing complexity of Free Trade Agreements. We then develop an algorithm that combines machine learning and text analysis techniques to examine the content of FTAs. We use the algorithm to determine which FTAs include provisions to facilitate the movement of business people and whether those provisions are included in dispute settlement mechanisms. Using these data and accounting for the overall depth of FTAs, we show that provisions facilitating business travel indeed facilitate business travel (but not permanent migration) and, eventually, increase bilateral trade flows.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Migration, Business , Free Trade, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus