Covid Crisis Lab: Bocconi Studies the Impact of the Pandemic

Covid Crisis Lab: Bocconi Studies the Impact of the Pandemic


Bocconi University and the social sciences are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic: with this in mind, the new Covid Crisis Lab, Laboratory for Coronavirus Crisis Research has been created, a meeting point for over 30 researchers in the fields of economics, statistics, experts in AI, demography, politics, law and the social sciences in general, directed by epidemiologist Alessia Melegaro, Professor of Demography and Social Statistics at Bocconi.

The aim in fact is to focus on the crisis not only from a healthcare point of view, but also for its impact on society, the economy and finance, business and legal issues.

"Since the very first days of the pandemic, Bocconi has activated several research projects to understand the impact that the crisis was having and will have in our society," explains Gianmario Verona, Bocconi’s Rector. "If, in fact, health management is the most important aspect in the acute phase, it is in Phase 2 that the research contribution that the social sciences can make is of fundamental importance".

"The birth of this Laboratory highlights two aspects", adds Jêrome Adda, Bocconi's Dean for research, "on the one hand, the relevance of Bocconi research on policies to support crisis management; on the other hand, its great interdisciplinary nature".

There are 4 thematic areas of research in the Laboratory: economics, finance & business, health, society, legal system.

Economics, finance and business: the research makes use of the work of macroeconomists and researchers in Finance and Management to study and understand the various aspects of the pandemic on the economy in general, the financial sector and business. Among them, Pamela Giustinelli in collaboration with University College London wants to better understand how people with different backgrounds perceive the costs and benefits of social distancing measures, in order to design appropriate incentives to respect them. A research project by Jêrome Adda aims instead to provide a comparative analysis of the cost-effectiveness of public policies undertaken under real-life conditions during the Covid-19 epidemic in France.

Health: the research activity contributes to the understanding of the spread of epidemics through the improvement of the models which characterize the epidemic and the health behaviour of individuals, its impact on health, the management of hospitals and health sectors and the development of new tools to track and monitor the epidemic through the use of Artificial Intelligence. An example is the project born from the international collaboration between Cergas Bocconi and the virologist Ilaria Capua of the University of Florida. The working group, which also involves researchers from the Politecnico di Milano and POLIS Lombardia, aims to analyze the factors of the spread of and mortality from Covid-19. Moreover, since the beginning of the pandemic, Alessia Melegaro has been conducting data analysis and modelling to monitor the course of the infection and its transmission potential in the Lombardy Region, in collaboration with the Region and the Bruno Kessler Foundation of Trento.

Society: research here makes use of the work of sociologists, economists, historians and computer scientists and aims to understand the short and long term impact of pandemics on society and people. Among the various studies, Arnstein Aassve and Letizia Mencarini are evaluating the relationship between trust and institutions in the US during the Covid-19 epidemic. A study by Valentina Bosetti focuses instead on the environmental impact of the emergency, analyzing levels of air pollution in the weeks following the contagion in the metropolitan areas of Wuhan and Milan. Paolo Pinotti concentrates on the effectiveness of social distancing policies by analysing the mobility of individuals within and between cities. The importance of family ties and social interactions between generations on the transmission of Covid-19 is the theme of the studies by Nicoletta Balbo, Francesco Billari and Alessia Melegaro.

Legal system: the work of scholars from the Department of Legal Studies investigates the effect of the crisis on the derogation from the normal rules of corporate governance. Moreover, it aims to understand similarities, differences and peculiarities of national and supranational bodies' reactions to the health emergency dictated by the coronavirus. Among the studies launched, the research project on food safety and sustainability in markets by Leonardo Borlini with Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

"The Lab is a concrete collaboration of very different specializations together", concludes Alessia Melegaro. "Professionalities that, all of them together, work with a single objective: to give the support and help of research in thisq delicate phase we are facing".

by Andrea Celauro


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