The campus of New York University Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: According to a new study on COVID-19, conducted by NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), country-wide social-distancing measures have resulted in a decrease in anxiety among the general population. The research also revealed that female heads of state are more inclined to implementing COVID-19 restrictions than their male counterparts. These are among some of the findings that researchers have identified so far from their ongoing study, which aims to aid governments’ understanding to ensure enhanced policy development.

Robert Kubinec and Joan Barcelo, assistant professors of Political Science at NYUAD, and a team of ten other researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Southern California and other top global academic institutions, found that business restrictions and social distancing measures were strongly associated with reduced general anxiety. The findings were published in an open archive platform called SocArXiv to help encourage academics from around the world to use the database for their own research.

Key conclusions

The study assigns scores to governments based on six policy categories, including social distancing policies, school-related policies, business-related policies, health monitoring policies, health resources policies, and mask-related policies.

Several conclusions were drawn from this latest update, which could aid government analysis and further develop policies while helping academics better understand human behaviour during the pandemic.

For instance, researchers discovered that school restrictions were associated with higher rates of personal contact with people outside the home, higher levels of income inequality and bureaucratic corruption.

Kubinec said: “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the research community has focused its efforts towards collecting and analysing data on government policies aimed at preventing the virus transmission. However, our knowledge, in terms of which policies or policy types have been the most effective at countering COVID-19, remains limited mainly due to the scale of the pandemic and the diversity of government responses.”

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The findings were derived from Coronanet, an online database that allows researchers to combine policy data from two of the most comprehensive COVID-19 policy datasets — the CoronaNet COVID-19 Government Response Event Dataset and the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. The data was also correlated to a wide-scale survey conducted on Facebook by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland, designed to gauge citizen sentiment and provide a more holistic view on the risk factors.