Disasters, Science

Natural Experiments During a Crisis

Tuesday, 10th March 2020

Natural experiments during the Covid-19 crisis (you know, the kind where you can’t create an experimental group, mostly because you’d never get IRB approval and it’s totally immoral, but now such a group has been created anyway, so let’s not miss the opportunity to research it). Ok, not all of these are serious. Feel free to add more:

1. Do the rates of other illnesses take a dive, with all the handwashing?
2. Do violent crime rates rise during social isolation (given that most violent crime is between people who know each other, and they’ll be spending more time together)?
3. What are the effects on the primary races if everyone stays home? How would we tell the difference?
4. Will students learn less in a class that moves online, or more, or about the same?
5. Will we be more open to making accommodations for people with chronic illness in the future, given that there’s been a wider experience of it in society?
6. Toilet paper hoarders vs. not: whose infection rates are lower?
7. States (counties, cities, etc.) that took aggressive measures vs. those that didn’t – difference in infection and mortality rates.
8. Effect on climate of canceled travel (once it actually goes down, that is, and we don’t have planes flying around empty just to keep their airport slots).
9. Effect of covid-19 on the oil war that just started between Saudi Arabia and everyone else, mostly Russia – is this brilliant timing with an amplified effect on lowered oil prices, or terrible timing, with the pressure of the price war blunted by the lower travel?
10. Baby bounce – will there be an elevated birth rate 9 months from now? Depressed? No change?

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