Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic we have begun to analyse, forecast and speculate the impact on economies, societies, political systems, governance mechanisms, and on many more areas. We have started to imagine a world after COVID-19 through a variety of lenses based on our own understanding and experiences. The innumerable research that are being carried out on the impact of COVID-19 throughout the world have flooded our minds, and sometimes made us confused as to what life after COVID-19 would look like.
The implications of COVID-19 on the global economy and on individual countries are becoming obvious as time goes on. The shutdown of almost all economic activities have brought miseries to economies of all strata and phases. Production and supply chains have been disrupted, exports and imports decelerated, transportation system collapsed and service sector interrupted. These have changed the lives and livelihoods of people across the world. Unemployment has soared, poverty has surged, food insecurity has increased, and above all, loss of lives is increasing by the hour.
Barring a few, most governments have undertaken policy measures to address such a rapid and massive impact of corona pandemic at large scales. Health expenditures have been topped up to mitigate the health risks. Stimulus packages for various sectors of the economy have been announced with the objective being increase spending following the Keynesian theory to rejuvenate the economy. Relief packages are also in place in many countries to extend income and food support to the poor to save them from hunger.
These are of course immediate responses to rescue the lives of people and also pump oxygen into the economy. And, hopefully it will work sooner rather than later. Scientists and doctors have shown some rays of hope to tackle the disease. And once health is under control, human beings are smart enough to work through in reviving the economic activities and recover the lost gains to the best of their ability. At least, history has pointed out clearly how economies could get back to life after several crises in the past. The World Wars, the Great Depression, the Spanish Flu and many more examples will confirm this.
However, apart from economic recovery, will there be any changes in social, cultural and institutional norms, political systems and governance patterns? Change is a continuous process. It happens for good or for bad. Changes emanated from crises may sometimes become beneficial for humanity. What changes will COVID-19 lead to? It depends on what changes we want to see. And how we work towards that. It is not automatic.