Covid-19: Research warns against 'one-size fits all' approach to easing economic burden

Local and regional policies will be required to ease the economic burden in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new UCC study has warned.
Covid-19: Research warns against 'one-size fits all' approach to easing economic burden

Local and regional policies will be required to ease the economic burden in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new UCC study has warned.

The research warned against a 'one-size fits all' approach, with affluent urban areas better primed to succeed in the new economic reality than less urban areas or those reliant on tourism and hospitality.

Dublin and the provincial cities will be best suited when it comes to implementing social distancing or remote working, according to 'Covid-19, Occupational Social Distancing and Remote Working Potential in Ireland', which has been published by UCC academics Dr Frank Crowley and Dr Justin Doran.

The study uses occupational data and economic indices to determine which workplaces have the most potential to adhere to social distancing requirements or to continue working remotely. It found the potential for social distancing and remote work favours occupations located in the Greater Dublin region and provincial cities.

At a town level, more affluent, larger, more densely populated, better educated and better broadband provisioned towns have more occupations with potential to adhere to social distancing measures or implement remote working.

The study identified areas like agriculture, forestry and fishing as those with the least remote working potential, while it suggests those in education, media, information and communications, or finance and insurance could all cope well with remote working arrangements.

Social distancing will be most challenging for those in transport, health and frontline services such as gardaí or the fire service, but it should be an option for those working in research, engineering, technology and customer service, they said.

As a result of the different requirements and challenges of different sectors, a varied strategy will be needed, the study warns. For instance, areas which are more reliant on tourism or hospitality could see their economies devastated by containment measures and would need a different approach than large urban centres.

"The Irish government needs to consider carefully how local and regional policy settings could be redesigned in order to better accommodate the impacts of increased social distancing and remote working on society over the short term and how it can help deeply affected workers and businesses recover in the medium to longer term," the study states.

Co-author of the report, Dr Frank Crowley, economist and co-director of the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School, said a varied economic approach could be key in aiding the recovery in different parts of the country.

"Due to occupational and industrial clustering and the associated social distancing and remote working potential required; the economic crisis is likely to play out differently across places," he said.

"A one-size fits all policy approach to the crisis is unlikely to resolve regional inequalities.The government needs to consider carefully how local and regional policy settings could be redesigned in order to better accommodate the impacts of increased social distancing and remote working on society over the short term and how it can help deeply affected workers and businesses recover in the medium to longer term."

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