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School of Economics and Finance

Tim Lee on the COVID-19 and Inequality in South Korea


Tim Lee's research with coauthors Sangmin Aum's and Yongseok Shin on the effect of COVID-19 on South Korea's labour market has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Barrons (a Wall Street Journal magazine), and gained a featured coverage in Canada's National Post.

Tim and coauthors find that even within Korea, which more or less contained the pandemic without ever shutting down the economy, the sole region that had a significant outbreak experienced a larger drop in employment and worsening inequality compared to the rest of the nation. They argue that the quantitative magnitude of the negative effects imply that even in countries that experienced much larger outbreaks, such as the UK and the US, as much as half of the negative labour market consequences may be directly due to the epidemic (consumers and businesses voluntarily limiting their economic activities), rather than the large-scale lockdowns implemented by the government.

The media has focused on the precautionary message of the article: Lifting lockdowns won't recover the economy unless there is a larger, sustained drop in COVID-19 infections.

Tim summarises his findings in The Conversation.

Update: Additional coverage in the Wall Street Journal and the Brazilian daily Folha de S.Paulo (Portuguese).