by Ian Shires on 17 July, 2020
Responding to the latest Government announcement on easing lockdown measures, Graham Loomes, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, whose research specialises in making decisions in the face of risk and uncertainty, said:
“Every time we relax the lockdown restrictions, we need to think about whether that increases the risk and, if so, what benefit we are getting in return, in terms of improving our economic and social welfare.
“Many of the relaxations suggested so far seem to be justifiable. They allow a number of people to return to their jobs or education, to restore their income, and allow them a bit more freedom of movement. I think they would probably pass a cost-benefit analysis as those benefits are worth the extra risks that are liable to accompany these measures.
“My concern is that although politicians say their decisions are “guided by the evidence”, we are not being given the evidence and it is hard to tell what the justifications are for what is being done.
“There will be more infections and illnesses and deaths, especially in some areas and in some age groups, but it is impossible to find out how much extra risk will be tolerated before, say, a local lockdown is triggered. What were the pros and cons considered in the case of the Leicester lockdown? What were the criteria for then unlocking some areas of Leicester but not others?
“The Government and their advisors should be upfront and tell the public the facts behind those decisions.
“If people are encouraged to believe that the risks are lower than they really are, in order to get them spending and going back to work, they may behave less carefully. Then they will get blamed, because it will somehow be their fault for not being careful enough, even though they weren’t fully informed of the risks.”
Graham Loomes is Professor of Behavioural Science Economics at Warwick Business School. He is one of the most highly cited researchers on economics and business in the UK, has conducted research for a number of government bodies, and is a fellow of the British Academy. His research focuses on decision making in the face of risk and the trade offs between health, wealth, and happiness involved in those decisions.1 Comment