Wittgenstein Centre Conference 2020: “Demographic Aspects of the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Consequences”
COVID-19 is causing serious health, social and economic challenges, several of which are directly related to demographic factors. Given that older persons have a weaker immune system and are likely to have underlying chronic illness, they are particularly vulnerable to viruses like SARS-CoV-2. The severity of COVID19 thus does not depend only on a country’s health system and policy measures, but also on age structure, regional distribution and social behavior. In countries like Italy and Spain, where 7% and 6.2% of the population was aged over 80 in 2018 (compared to 5.6% in the EU-28 on average) coupled with more intensive intergenerational social contact, demographic and family factors may have played a key role in determining vulnerability to COVID-19. How severe the consequences of the pandemic will be outside of Europe also depends on demographic, social, economic and political factors.
While the initial efforts focus on slowing the spread of the pandemic and mitigating its immediate impact, significant demography-related consequences are expected in the longer term, ranging from the way our economies function in terms of labor markets and migration, to family related behavior (including possible effects on fertility), international travel patterns and social and health care policies, as well as to how the economic burden can be shared fairly across the population.
This conference aims to bring together researchers from around the world working on COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences from a demographic perspective; in particular, we will explore the following topics:
- What factors explain regional and country differentials in population vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the contributions of demographic factors such as age structure, spatial distribution, social stratification and migration, and social factors such as norms in explaining the vulnerability and responses to COVID-19?
- What are the demographic consequences of COVID-19 e.g. on fertility and partnership, mortality, health and migration?
- What are the economic consequences of COVID-19 and how will they affect population subgroups differentially?
- What are the lessons learned in terms of data needs and methods of analysis as well as policy priorities for the future?
We are confident that by the end of November 2020 it will again be possible to travel freely and safely to Vienna and that enough data and relevant analyses will have been accumulated to arrive at a first comprehensive assessment as to what is known with respect to the questions raised above. A set of the best papers presented will be published in the peer-reviewed Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, but all draft papers and posters will already be made openly accessible to the scientific community by the time of the conference.