Banks and bookstores. Gyms and juice bars. Dental offices and department stores. The Covid-19 crisis has shuttered some kinds of businesses, while others have stayed open. But which places represent the best and worst tradeoffs, in terms of the economic benefits and health risks?
A new study by MIT researchers uses a variety of data on consumer and business activity to tackle that question, measuring 26 types of businesses by both their usefulness and risk. Vital forms of commerce that are relatively uncrowded fare the best in the study; less significant types of businesses that generate crowds perform worse. The results can help inform the policy decisions of government officials during the ongoing pandemic.
As it happens, banks perform the best in the study, being economically significant and relatively uncrowded.
“Banks have an outsize economic impact and tend to be bigger spaces that people visit only once in a while,” says Seth G. Benzell, a postdoc at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and co-author of a paper published Wednesday that outlines the study. Indeed, in the study, banks rank first in economic importance, out of the 26 business types, but just 14th in risk.
By contrast, other business types create much more crowding while having far less economic importance. These include liquor and tobacco stores; sporting goods stores; cafes, juice bars, and dessert parlors; and gyms. All of those are in the bottom half of the study’s rankings of economic importance. At the same time, cafes, juice bars, and dessert parlors,…
You can read the article in its entirety, on the official website of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thanks a lot MIT to help create a better world.