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India’s Lockdown

(with S. Subramanian and Lore Vandewalle), August 2020, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Policy Brief 102, April 2020.

We discuss the modalities and wisdom of India’s lockdown as a response to the covid-19 pandemic. Here is a related video interview.


Decoding India’s Low Covid-19 Case Fatality Rate

(with Minu Philip and S. Subramanian), revised September 2020.

Summary. India’s case fatality rate (CFR) under covid-19 is strikingly low, trending from 3% or more, to a current level of under 1.8%. The world average rate is far higher. Several observers have noted that this difference is at least partly due to India’s younger age distribution. In this paper, we use age-specific fatality rates from comparison countries, coupled with India’s distribution of covid-19 cases to “predict” what India’s CFR would be with those age-specific rates. In most cases, those predictions are lower than India’s actual performance, suggesting that India’s CFR is, if anything, too high rather than too low.

India’s Lockdown: An Interim Report

(with S. Subramanian), May 2020, Indian Economic Review,

Summary. The world has continued to change rapidly since the last version of this article was written on May 20, 2020. Yet, as this article goes to press, we are aware of two realities; first, that we cannot perennially chase a moving target, but second, that nothing about the fundamental trends that we have identified appear to have changed. India is firmly in the throes of a vicious pandemic that we can only hope will abate with the development of an effective vaccine. Our plea for the widespread provision of adequate health and medical facilities, adequate protection for the elderly, and transfers to those severely affected by the lockdown are absolutely unchanged in the face of the latest data. In contrast, the brutal enforcement of a lockdown with none of these accompanying measures can only worsen outcomes for the poorest and most vulnerable among the population.