Our response to covid-19

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2020-04-15

At the end of March, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a state of emergency and lockdown due to the covid-19 virus that has spread across the globe. Stellenbosch University has moved all teaching online, with classes to resume on 20 April.

Members of the Department, in addition to their online teaching duties, are also providing valuable input across many platforms to help combat the disease and its effects. The list below details some of these initiatives. The list will be updated periodically.

 

Mid-July

End of June

Mid-May

  • Several members of the department sign an open letter asking for the lockdown measures to be relaxed. Read it here.
  • Prof Stan du Plessis and Dr Malan Rietveld argues that South Africa must pursue fiscal reform to prevent a debt crisis. Read it here.
  • Le Roux Burrows and co-authors argue that restarting the economy will benefit all social classes. Read it here.

Early May

  • Prof Willem Boshoff has written a note on 'The competition economics of excessive pricing and its relation to the Covi-19 disaster period'. Read it here.
  • Prof Stan du Plessis and Dr Malan Rietveld contributes to the debate about the Reserve Bank's response with a Business Day opinion piece.
  • This week researchers at Stellenbosch University launched the Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM), a collaborative research project across five universities which will track the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in South Africa. The study will survey a nationally representative sample of 10,000 South Africans every month for the next six months using telephone surveys with R20 airtime incentives per respondent per wave. The survey will focus on unemployment, household income, access to healthcare, child hunger and access to government grants.

Mid-April

  • Op-ed on the need for social solidarity amidst social distancing by Prof Ronelle Burger
  • As a largely empirical field, Economics relies on good data. In these uncertain times it's difficult to get reliable, nationally-representative real-time data on important and rapidly changing outcomes. Nic Spaull, a Senior Researcher in the Department, is currently spearheading the Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM). This draws on the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) sampling frame to construct a nationally-representative panel sample of 10,000 individuals that will be phoned and surveyed every month for the next six months. They will be asked about changes in income, employment, child hunger and other important social and health outcomes, and provided with airtime incentives for their time. Although Nic is the Principal Investigator for the project, the CRAM project is a collaborative multi-university project with over 30 researchers from five universities. The other co-investigators for the project include Servaas van der Berg, Rulof Burger and Ronelle Burger (Stellenbosch Economics), as well as Vimal Ranchhod and Reza Daniels (UCT Economics and SALDRU) and Dori Posel (Wits Economics). The first results of the project are expected in May/June 2020.
  • Predictive Insights, run by Rulof Burger and Neil Rankin, are currently engaged in several activities related to the Covid-19 response:

    1. It uses tweets to compile a sentiment index that reflects how South Africans feel about the current lockdown. This index is in the public domain and is regularly updated on the LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/predictive-insights).
    2. It also combines sales data from its clients in different industries with other data sources to compile an economic activity index during the lockdown. This measure is highly correlated with the Google mobility index, and can be used to measure the extent of the slowdown in various industries, as well identifying when economic activity is starting to recover
    3. It uses a daily sales forecasting model to predict how busy different branches will be in the upcoming days, which helps companies place stock replenishment orders and schedule workers optimally.
    4. It is also helping Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator analyse its data on young job-seekers to help us understand the effect of the lockdown on youth unemployment
  • Johan Fourie and Masters student Jonathan Jayes, with inputs from various other LEAP postdoctoral and graduate students, prepared a report 'A century later: Lessons from the 1918 Spanish flu' for the Presidency. The report was submitted on Tuesday, 9 April and will be made available soon. An opinion piece in Business Day also mentioned some of their Spanish flu research. (The full text is available here.)
  • Gideon du Rand, Hylton Hollander, Monique Reid and Dawie van Lill are analysing the effectiveness of large scale asset purchases (“QE”) in response to atypical supply-side shocks (ie supply shocks that also generate deficient demand). They are also modelling the macro effects of epidemiological shocks (SIR-macro model). Gideon is also working on an agent-based model of the spread at the ward level in Cape Town with economists from the University of Cape Town.
  • Several members of the department has also signed a letter by economists and other social scientists urging government to rapidly roll out social grants and implement concomitant economic policies that would alleviate the expected hunger and social distress from covid-19 and the lockdown.

Login

(for staff & registered students)



Need a password?
Forgot your password?

Upcoming Seminars

No seminars are currently listed. Please check back soon.
 
More...

BER Weekly

6 December 2021
The exponential rise in domestic COVID-19 cases continued last week. Importantly, the Omicron variant, responsible for the rise in domestic infections, is increasingly being detected in other countries. This fuelled financial market volatility last week. On the data front, the latest employment figures were in focus. In SA, job losses continued in 2021Q3,...

Read the full issue
 

Upcoming Seminars

No seminars are currently listed. Please check back soon.
 
More...

BER Weekly

6 December 2021
The exponential rise in domestic COVID-19 cases continued last week. Importantly, the Omicron variant, responsible for the rise in domestic infections, is increasingly being detected in other countries. This fuelled financial market volatility last week. On the data front, the latest employment figures were in focus. In SA, job losses continued in 2021Q3,...

Read the full issue