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The Great Covid Panic

In the Great Panic of early 2020, nearly every government in the world restricted the movement of its population, disrupted the education of its children, suspended normal individual liberties, hijacked its health care system for a single purpose and in other ways increased its direct control of people’s lives.

Attempts to control the new coronavirus in most countries made the number of deaths from the virus and other health problems higher. Some countries and regions within countries snapped out of the madness in early 2021 or even before. Yet many governments, even in mid-2021, were equally or more determined to cling to the extraordinary powers they had granted themselves.

Why did 2020-21 become, so suddenly and with such fanaticism, a time of global panic over a virus that for most people is barely more dangerous than a standard-issue flu bug? Open this book to discover how the madness started, what kept it going and how it might end. Join Jane the complier, James the decider and Jasmine the doubter, the three core protagonists of The Great Panic. Their experiences illustrate what happened to individuals, and through them to whole societies, telling us - if we care to listen - how to avoid a repeat.

The Authors

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters is a Professor of Wellbeing Economics at the London School of Economics: from 2016 through November 2019 at the Center for Economic Performance, thereafter at the Department of Social Policy. He completed his Masters in Econometrics at the University of Groningen, including a seven-month stay in Durban, South Africa, before completing a
PhD through the University of Amsterdam. He has also engaged in teaching and research at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, and now the LSE. Professor Frijters specializes in applied microeconometrics, including labor, happiness, and health economics, though he
has also worked on pure theoretical topics in macro and micro fields. His main area of interest is in analyzing how socio-economic variables affect the human life experience and the “unanswerable” economic mysteries in life. Professor Frijters is a prominent research economist and has published over 150
papers in fields including unemployment policy, discrimination and economic development.

Gigi Foster
Gigi Foster is a Professor with the School of Economics at the University of New South Wales, having joined UNSW in 2009 after six years at the University of South Australia. Formally educated at Yale University (BA in Ethics, Politics, and Economics) and the University of Maryland (PhD in Economics), she works in diverse fields including education, social influence, corruption, lab experiments, time use, behavioural economics, and Australian policy. Her research regularly informs public debates and appears in both specialized and cross-disciplinary outlets (e.g., Quantitative Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Human Relations). Her teaching, featuring strategic innovation and integration with research, was awarded a 2017 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Named 2019 Young Economist of the Year by the Economic Society of Australia, Professor Foster has filled numerous roles of service to the profession and engages heavily on economic matters with the Australian community. Her regular media appearances include co-hosting The Economists, a national economics talk-radio program and podcast series now in its fifth season, with Peter Martin AM on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National.

Michael Baker
Michael Baker has a BA (Economics) from the University of Western Australia. He is an independent economic consultant and freelance journalist with a background in policy research. He worked in the 1990s as a policy analyst with the Committee for
Economic Development, a New York-based think tank that researched environmental policy, the federal budget and the retirement funding system, among other issues. After moving back to his native Australia in the early 2000s he launched his own consulting business specialising in commercial property economics,
consumer demographics and retail. His
clients are spread across the globe, including Australia, the US, UAE, China and India. In addition to advisory work, he has written frequently for business and trade publications in Australia, the US and Asia. One of his specialties is translating academic research into language comprehensible to the layperson.

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