COVID-19 and Public Health

The global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted millions of lives, forcing societies to come together and adopt cohesive public health strategies. Yet, this virus, like many public health crises before it, has exacerbated underlying inequities around the world. The varied impact of COVID-19 will leave a profound mark on human development.

Current projects

Thanks to the support of a Catalyst grant from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CiFAR), Evan Lieberman and Allison Harell are examining the effects of information about race disparities in COVID-related mortality on public opinion. They examine whether providing information about ethnic- and race-based disparities concerning the prevalence of infectious disease elicits a sense of urgency, and helps foster the types of attitudes and behaviors that contribute to a more thoroughgoing and effective response? Or whether such information causes some to believe that this is a problem that affects “them,” but not “us”, effectively reducing personal and collective urgency? The authors test these theories with a nationally representative study.

COVID-19-induced restrictions on movement, along with the associated economic and social stress, have led to a notable increase in gender-based violence, particularly in the developing world. The social distancing and quarantine measures have also increased the need for online ways to disseminate information on risks and services, as well as to offer support. Fotini Christia and Elizabeth Parker-Magyar (along with co-authors Horacio Larreguy and Norhan Muhab) are designing social-media interventions in Egypt intended to curb violence against women exacerbated by COVID-19.

published work

Lieberman, Evan. 2020. “Risk for ‘Us,’ or for ‘Them’? The Comparative Politics of Diversity and Responses to AIDS and Covid-19.” Social Science Research Council.

 Norris, Michele. 2020. “The ‘Us and Them’ Pandemic Shows America Is Still Impervious to Black Pain.” The Washington Post.

Cammett, Melani and Lieberman, Evan. 2020. “Building Solidarity: Challenges, Options, and Implications for COVID-19 Responses.” Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Dunham, Yarrow, Evan Lieberman and Steven Snell. 2016. Does Stigmatized Social Risk Lead to Denialism? Results from a Survey Experiment on Race, Risk Perception, and Health Policy in the United States.”  PloS One11(3): e0147219.

Lieberman, Evan. 2009. Boundaries of Contagion: How Ethnic Politics Have Shaped Government Responses to AIDS. Princeton University Press.

Lieberman, Evan. 2007. “Ethnic Politics, Risk, and Policy-Making: A Cross-National Statistical Analysis of Government Responses to HIV/AIDS.” Comparative Political Studies 40 (12): 1407- 1432.

Gauri, Varun and Lieberman, Evan. 2006. “Boundary Politics and HIV/AIDS Policy in Brazil and South Africa.” Studies in Comparative International Development 41 (3): 47-73.


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