Global health pandemics such as COVID-19 present significant economic and social challenges.

SEO has carried out numerous socio-economic impact studies for the COVID-19 pandemic and now has extensive expertise in evaluating such effects, along with assessing the costs and benefits of policy options aimed at mitigating these effects. While the COVID pandemic may be over, its social consequences are far from resolved. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation has already stressed the necessity for governments and the private sector to prepare for future pandemics.

SEO has significant experience, in part built up during the COVID-19 pandemic, with evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of pandemic-related policy measures and support packages. These analyses focus on both short-term and long-term effects. Regarding the short-term effects, SEO can examine the effects of closing parts of the economy (such as airports, companies, sectors, or schools), the effects of remote working on productivity, labour market effects, as well as ways to revive the economy once restrictive measures are lifted. Regarding the long-term effects, SEO can assess the effects of school closures on children’s health, the impact of lockdowns on young people entering the job market, or challenges faced by young families during lockdowns. Finally, SEO evaluates the effects of measures to provide liquidity to workers and businesses, as we have done for the Dutch government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEO advises international organisations, national governments, businesses, and advocacy groups on the social impact of health pandemics. Several SEO researchers actively participate in advisory committees, such as the “Social Impact Team” of the Dutch government. Like in our other research areas, our research in this area is firmly grounded in the academic literature.

Subareas of expertise

How does a pandemic affect the labour market?

Data from Statistics Netherlands revealed that young people who entered the labour market just before or during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced an unexpected ‘false start’. For example, young people who entered the labour market just before the  pandemic mainly had lower job opportunities during the initial lockdown. Young people who entered the labour market during the pandemic had lower job opportunities for a brief period, but saw their job opportunities recover afterwards. For more information on our labour market research, see our Labour expertise.

How does a pandemic affect excess mortality?

Research has been conducted on excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistical methods have shown that excess mortality was higher among people with unfavourable lifestyle factors. About half of the Dutch population is overweight, but within this group, between 70 and 98 per cent of excess mortality occured. For more information on similar research, see our Healthcare expertise.