Transparency, openness and honesty in the fight against covid-19

09:00 by Hubert Fromlet, Kalmar

This time, I am publishing only a short article – but in both English and Swedish, https://blogg.lnu.se/fromlet-bbsresearch/ . The main objective is to point at the insufficient efforts of the government and  authorities to optimize transparency, openness and honesty in the Swedish fight against covid-19.

In my view, more can be done. This can be said about media as well. How many debate articles have so far been published with institutional angles as mentioned above? However, my main objective with these lines is not to criticize politicians, authorities or the press. My intention is rather to focus on an important scientific research area which until now has been completely underestimated by practitioners.

Swedish corona-transparency is still not convincing for an advanced economy. Too much is hidden, difficult to find or left out at press conferences. The same can be said about openness with several occasions last year of downplaying the covid-19 risks. Altogether, there is an obvious risk of deteriorating honesty gradings (see also Eichengreen et al below).

I am talking in this context about institutional economics, a research area that was awarded with the Nobel Prize at several occasions (Coase, North, Ostrom, Williamson). Douglass North (1920-2015) is often regarded as the father of New Institutional Economics.

Currently, professor Barry Eichengreen (Berkeley) belongs to the outstanding academics with a major institutional nexus. In 2020, he published in Finland – together with Aksoy and Saka – the following interesting lines related to our topic:

“…trust and confidence in government are important for the capacity of a society to organize an effective collective response to an epidemic. Yet there is also the possibility that experiencing an epidemic can negatively affect an individual’s confidence in political institutions and trust in political leaders, with negative implications for this collective capacity…”

https://helda.helsinki.fi/bof/bitstream/handle/123456789/17490/dp1420.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Eichengreen et al describe exactly what I mean. Better awareness of the problems mentioned above by politicians, health authorities and media could move the fight against covid-19 a bit longer in the right direction.

This conclusion can also be applied to other advanced countries and emerging markets.

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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