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Keynes Fund


Summary of Project Plan


The battle for control over the Covid-19 pandemic is international. The disease has not only affected a subset of the population that is infected with it but has also severely affected employment opportunities, economic growth, and general health and well-being of people across the globe.

To arrest the exponential growth in infection around the world, it is crucial to understand the key factors that have led to the rapid diffusion of this infection. In a recent article examining COVID-19 super-spreader events in 28 countries, 9 out of 54 such events were religious gatherings. This project aims to understand how religious gatherings and religious networks spread infectious diseases such as Covid-19. Second, we aim to understand how Covid-19 induced restrictions and the inability to attend in-person religious congregations have affected mental health. Our study is based on the United States, a country characterized by enormous religious diversity and variations in socioeconomic status.

This research project is directly relevant to the Keynes Fund’s statutory goals. It aims to conduct theoretically grounded empirical research on the behaviour of market participants in times of an economic and health crisis such as Covid-19. The research outcomes will be important from both academic and policy standpoints. Understanding how market participants perpetuate and propagate a contagion and how a contagion affects mental health are the first steps in designing effective and efficient public policies to combat similar epidemics in the future to promote sustained economic growth and general well-being.



Dr Sriya Iyer, Dr Girish Bahal and Dr Anand Shrivastava


Dr Sriya Iyer is a University Reader at the Faculty of Economics and a Fellow of St. Catharine's College, University of Cambridge. Her research interests are in Development Economics, Religion, Demography and Education.


Dr Girish Bahal is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Western Australia Business School. His key areas of research are Networks in Economics and Labour Economics.


Dr Anand Shrivastava is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India. His areas of research are Economics of Conflict, Labour Economics, and Economics of Networks.


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