For the amount Malawi would spend on saving one life through corona policies, it can save 4,000 lives through smart HIV policies


Bjorn Lomborg

Cost of Lockdowns in Developing Nations Outweighs Health Benefit

Across the world, countries have imposed social distancing regulations to avoid overwhelming the health care capacity during the corona pandemic — the so-called “flatten the curve." This can make sense in many rich countries that have ageing populations and strong health systems. But two new studies for Ghana and Malawi show that in the developing world, the costs of even a moderate lockdown and school closures vastly exceed the benefits.

In Ghana, social distancing policies over nine months can avoid almost 16,000 deaths at a cost of almost two-thirds of an entire year of GDP. Each dollar spent on moderate social distancing and school closures to tackle corona will deliver just five cents of social benefits.
Bjorn Lomborg and Professor Peter Quartey point out in an article for Daily Graphic that for the amount Ghana would spend on saving one life through corona policies, it can save 8,000 lives through smart TB policies.

For the even poorer country of Malawi, reducing economic activity and access to the health system as a result of corona policies would be even more devastating. The total cost of saving 7,000 people from corona will be $12 billion or two years of GDP, with each dollar spent achieving 4¢ of social benefits. And still, more life years would be lost than gained, as deaths avoided from COVID-19 are likely to be of older people, whereas more young people are going to die from preventable causes such as hunger, TB and malaria.

Lomborg discusses these findings in his new column which has been published in multiple languages by prominent newspapers around the globe, including Daily Nation (Kenya), Economic Times (India), The Australian, Die Welt (Germany), Perfil (Argentina), Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), Bergens Tidende (Norway), Punch (Nigeria), Milenio (Mexico), La Prensa (Nicaragua), Jakarta Post (Indonesia), Al Ahram (Egypt), Capital (Ethiopia), El Universo (Ecuador), and Los Tiempos (Bolivia).

The research has also been covered by journalists writing for The Economist and La Presse (Canada, in French), and Lomborg discussed the findings on The Kenny Report on Sky News Australia.

Tackling Corona in India: Sledgehammer Approach is Doomed to Fail

As in other emerging economies, the economic impact of corona policies in India is enormous, with social costs outweighing benefits 7 to 1. Many people argue that we should save lives no matter the cost. But such an admirable sentiment ignores reality: No country can afford to save all lives. In India, 150,000 people die each year on the roads, but we don’t implement a 5 km/h speed limit which would save everyone, because it would wreck the economy.

Therefore, it is crucial to tackle corona effectively. Clearly, India should continue with low-cost social restrictions, such as physical distancing and non-contact greetings, cocooning of the elderly and vulnerable, restricting large gatherings and promoting hand washing. But states should resist the urge to implement unsustainable lockdowns, both because their costs likely outweigh their benefits, but also because if broken before time, they will help little.

Bjorn Lomborg and Bibek Debroy, Chairman to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Economic Advisory Council, argue in the world's largest circulating newspaper in English language, The Times of India, that policy-makers need to be cautious to not go too far in the fight against corona. A sledgehammer may seem attractive, but is not always effective.

Register for Virtual Policy Briefing on Bjorn Lomborg's New Book

False Alarm -  How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.

False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong -- and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all. Preorder now here.

 "Bjorn Lomborg's new book offers a data-driven, human-centered antidote to the oft-apocalyptic discussion characterizing the effect of human activity on the global climate. Careful, compelling, and above all sensible and pragmatic."
-- Jordan B. Peterson

Bjorn Lomborg will discuss his new book during a Virtual Policy Briefing with the Hoover Institution on July 14. Register here.

Improved Access to Free Senior High School

Ghana continues to face challenges in the field of senior high school education, including limited space for increased admission and insufficient infrastructure. In 2017, space constraints resulted in 15% of Ghana’s students not being able to enroll in schools across the country.

New research for Ghana Priorities finds that providing public subsidy to placement in private schools would help 30,000 students enrol in senior high school and alleviate the need to build 50 new public schools. Each cedi spent would yield 1.5 cedi in benefits.

Incorporating learning benefits into the calculation would make the return on investment even more significant, with every cedi spent delivering over three cedis in social benefits.

Learn more in Bjorn Lomborg's op-ed for Ghana's leading newspaper Daily Graphic.

Skilled Youths for Improved Employment

A third of Ghana’s population is between the ages of 15 and 34, but the country struggles to offer employment for its youth. Among young people unemployment has increased from 10% in 2008 to 14% in 2018, far exceeding the rate for adults. To improve employment generation for Ghana’s youths, researchers for Ghana Priorities studied increasing opportunities for vocational training and apprenticeships to improve skill development and bridge the gap between labor market needs and young job-seekers.

Both of these interventions offer societal returns greater than the original investment with benefit-cost ratios of 1.3 and 2.4 respectively. Yet, among the educational interventions studied in the Ghana Priorities project, quality primary education has a higher impact on increasing productivity in the long term than initiatives focusing on senior high school or job training.

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic.

Land Title Reform for Increased Investment, Security and Development

The formalization of land rights through titling has positive implications for investments, land productivity, and socioeconomic development. In Ghana, however, the land structure is complicated, with most holdings remaining in customary ownership, untitled, and undocumented.

Researchers for Ghana Priorities studied the possibility of surveying and documenting over more than half of Ghana’s land area — 170,000 square kilometres of customary lands to build a comprehensive and automated national base land map. Even at a success rate of only 25%, the benefits would be enormous: every cedi spent on the reform would yield a benefit of around 90 cedis.

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg's article for Daily Graphic.

Lomborg on social media:

Appalling — the UN Environment Program chief seemingly blaming COVID-19 on lack of climate action

Airplanes have gotten more fuel efficient over time

What happens when communities start opening up after lockdown

Met Office now participates in climate alarm

World Economic Forum released its risk assessment

Not surprising: with corona costs soaring, much less for climate

More articles and interviews:

Expect more to die from TB and diabetes than Covid-19
news24 (South Africa)

Michael Moores klimafilm er tomhjernet og uden dokumentation
Berlingske (Denmark)

Fortify unveils partnership to promote consumption of iron fortified foods in West Africa
Food Business Africa


About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to do good in the world, and has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals.

He is the author of several best-selling books, Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and works regularly with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates.

His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was named Think Tank of the Year in International Affairs by Prospect Magazine. It has repeatedly been top-ranked by University of Pennsylvania in its global overview of think tanks.

Lomborg is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in dozens of newspapers across all continents.
Thank you for your continued interest and we hope you enjoy these occasional updates, if you do not wish to receive news about Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus in the future, you can easily remove your email from our mailing list.

Best wishes,
David Lessmann
Communications Manager
Copenhagen Consensus Center
Support the non-profit Copenhagen Consensus Center: donate hereforward this email to a friend, or read archived letters.

Copyright © 2020 Copenhagen Consensus Center, All rights reserved.
unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences