18 Jun 20 | News

Six LISER projects retained for funding in FNR COVID-19 Fast Track Call

These short-term research projects will address socio-economic aspects associated with the pandemic

The Luxembourg National Research Fund (Fonds National de la Recherche - FNR) has announced the results of their first and second rounds of financing under its novel COVID-19 Fast Track Call. A total of 51 out of the 124 eligible projects were retained for funding, corresponding to an FNR commitment of EUR 2.62 million. Namely, six LISER projects are among those selected, for a total support amounting to over EUR 299,000

The call launched by the FNR for a special FNR COVID-19 funding programme were in the framework of one of the Research Luxembourg Task Force work packages, related to the implementation of new initiatives in the current pandemic context. The COVID-19 Fast Track Call aims to (co-)support short-term research projects on COVID-19, or the starting phase of longer-term ones, in order to accelerate the understanding and treatment of the disease, as well as addressing the legal, socio-economic and infrastructural aspects associated with the pandemic.

The six LISER projects detailed below are led by researchers within the departments of Labour Market, Living Conditions and Urban Development and Mobility as well the Crossing Borders Research Programme and LISER’s Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Economics. Together, they will investigate a wide range of issues impacted by COVID-19’s such as: macroeconomic and distributional effects, teleworking, employment, mobility, health behaviours, inequality, wealth effects and the role the environment could play in COVID-19 transmission.

Project: An Experimental Test of Hospital Admission Guidelines (E.HAG)

Principal investigator: Francesco Fallucchi
Commitment by the FNR: 27k EUR

Abstract: During pandemics, hospital guidelines regulate admissions and treatment in case of congestion. These guidelines prescribe the allocation of beds and intensive care units (ICU) based on trade-offs between different moral principles. Despite being discussed extensively in the medicine and philosophy literature, these trade-offs are rarely discussed in the media, and little is known about the views that citizens have about it. We study how people view these moral trade-offs and whether the prevailing moral principles change with the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, we conduct a series of surveys in samples of the U.S. population exploiting the temporal and geographical variation in the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project: Digital Upskilling In A Telework Environment (DIGITUP)

Principal investigator: Ludivine Martin
Commitment by the FNR: 37.5k EUR

Abstract: Analyzing, understanding and determining the influence of the current health crisis on teleworkers’ well-being, motivations and productivity and efficiency of online collaborations that keep firms performant is essential to support the workforce for the current and future economic challenges, and turn them into opportunities. Indeed, in parallel with the current COVID-19 health crisis, the labour market is undergoing profound changes linked to the digital transformation, which will increase in the future (i.e. job replacement, new tasks to require digital skills). An increased use of digital tools at the workplace is not yet real for all organizations. While, for many years, the obstacles to voluntary efforts to switch to a generalized use of digital tools where huge (e.g. lack resources, training, incentive in terms of bonuses) the current lockdown has the power to change the situation. Whereas the use of current communication tools such as emails induces drawbacks for workers (e.g. infobesity), the upskilling to use more efficient collaborative tools (e.g. Microsoft Teams or Slack) will be beneficial for both workers and firms. Finally, if the telework period appears beneficial for both workers and firms, after the lockdown, the challenge will be to create a common framework in the Greater-Region to favor it.

Project: Family Response And Well-being Effects Of Covid-19

Principal investigator: Eugenio Peluso
Commitment by the FNR: 73.1k EUR

Abstract: Lockdowns and the economic crisis induced by Covid-19 are imposing unprecedented constraints on families in terms of freedom of choice, consumption opportunities, time use, and social interactions. The “Farewell-to-C19” project focuses on the role of the family as a place that can both buffer and amplify the shockwave. For example, a spouse that already had a higher earnings before the crisis will (in most cases) continue to work more, and absorb less of the increase in the unpaid workload due to childcare, likely amplifying gender-specific sharing rules and inequalities within the household – a factor that has been shown to affect the well-being of its members (Peluso and Trannoy 2007, Couprie et al. 2010). However, compared to singles, the family plays a natural inequality-reducing role due to the insurance possibilities offered by multiple income sources or consumption and time sharing. Looking across households, people most likely to be working from home were already better off, and children of already better-off households suffer less in terms of loss of human capital during the lockdown and are less exposed to material deprivation. To investigate how these interlaced effects will impact Luxemburgish households, the Farewell-to-C19 project will be developed by a team of researchers belonging to the Living Conditions, Labor Market and Urban Development and Mobility Departments of LISER, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow and the AMSE Marseille. This project is organized in three work packages (WP): The first WP compares different types of households to identify how individual preferences can be affected by family ties in the circumstances induced by the Covid-19 crisis. The second WP analyses several effects of the Covid-19 crisis on children conditions. The third WP focuses on preferences towards redistribution, their development within the family, and their transmission to children.

Project: Modeling The Macroeconomic And Distributional Effects Of Covid-19 And Restarting Scenarios

Principal investigator: Frederic Docquier
Commitment by the FNR: 61.7k EUR

Abstract: MODVid is a set of four complementary and interdependent work packages (WP) involving 6 PI’s and about 20 partners from, STATEC and LISER. Some WP’s aim to inform public decisions during the crisis. They provide estimates of the macroeconomic, distributional, and epidemiological effects of the crisis and of restarting scenarios in Luxembourg. These outputs will be delivered within one to two months. Other WP’s aim to inform public decisions in the aftermath of the crisis, in order to predict medium-term effects on the industry and occupational structure of the labor force, on income inequality and poverty, and on the adverse wealth effects for young-mid-aged adults. These medium-term outputs will be delivered within 6 months.

Project: The Role Of The Environment And Human Behavior In Transmission And Severity Of Covid-19 (COVID-transmission)

Principal investigator: Hichem Omrani
Commitment by the FNR: 50k EUR

Abstract: Based on superficial inspection and anecdotal evidence, there appears to be a close correlation between being a hotspot area for COVID-19 prevalence or severity on one hand and environmental factors (such as air pollution and meteorological variables) and human behaviour on the other hand. For instance, the highest COVID-19 prevalence region in Italy (Lombardy) is also one of the most polluted areas of the country. This apparent correlation has led some researchers to hypothesize that environmental factor (e.g., air pollution) may play a causal role in increasing COVID-19 transmission and severity. While such a link is plausible, as COVID-19 is a respiratory transmitted from person to person through inhalation or exhalation in respiratory droplets or touching contaminated surfaces and public policies have been established based on this, the mere correlation between environmental pollution and infections might not be enough to predict infections and deaths from COVID-19. Thus human behaviour, public policy as well as socio-economic factors should be considered to vary with COVID-19 infection and death rate. In this project, we start by exploring the interrelationship between the environment, human behavior, public policy, and socio-economic factors with COVID-19 infection and death rates rigorously. We will use novel real-time satellite data and available social media data (Facebook), combined with COVID-19 infection and mortality data, for a global sample of countries. We aim to contribute to make informed public policy decisions in the context of a potential exit strategy.

Project: Socio-economic Impacts of Covid-19: Collecting the Data Short-and medium-term (SEI)

Principal investigator: Martin Dijst
Commitment by the FNR: 49.9k EUR

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing in Luxembourg and neighbouring countries. It is hoped that due to confinement measures the number of infected persons and deaths will decline in the near future. Largely unknown are the short- and medium-term socio-economic impacts of the pandemic on work and employment, daily activities and mobility, and (not directly COVID-related) health and health behaviours. To understand these impacts, a data collection is necessary. This will allow thorough analyses, designing appropriate and tailor-made policy measures to avoid or mitigate detrimental wider impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, and combating social inequalities. Starting the data collection is an urgent priority right now, to form the basis of any evidence-based research to inform policy in this area. Public authorities in Luxembourg are considering to relieve the confinement measures to ‘unlock’ parts of economic and social life in the country as soon as the pandemic is becoming less severe and more ‘manageable’. As Luxembourg is currently still in the stage of confinement and has not yet entered the EXIT stage, this is the right time to start collecting data on the social, economic and health impacts of the pandemic. Two methods for data collection will be applied: an online questionnaire and an activity-mobility App for smartphones. People living in Luxembourg as well as cross border commuters will be asked (on a voluntarily basis) to participate in three stages of the pandemic: peak phase, post-peak phase and post-pandemic phase.