Regional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and policy responses in Hungary

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Kovács, Sándor Zsolt
Koós, Bálint
Uzzoli, Annamária
Páger, Balázs
Egyed, Ildikó
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Relevance. The new coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has brought major changes to everyday life and economy in 2020. The impacts of the pandemic are still difficult to measure and interpret. This paper analyses the key socio-economic factors that shaped the course of the pandemic and its regional effects in Hungary. Research objective. The aim of this paper is to provide a secondary data-based analysis of regional disparities in Hungary as well as the implications of the coronavirus pandemic and the related policy responses. Data and methodology. The analysis consisted of the three stages: first, we processed the official epidemiologic data related to the coronavirus pandemic and the territorial patterns of infections as well as the data on the socio-economic impacts of the lockdown (on retail trade, employment, tourism, local governments’ revenues, etc). Second, we collected the data related to the socio-economic effects of the pandemic and revealed the territorial impacts of the crisis. Finally, we evaluated the government’s measures and interventions introduced in the first wave of the pandemic in terms of their efficiency. Results. Our results demonstrate that while the epicentre of the pandemic was the capital city and its surrounding area, the socio-economic impacts of containment measures implemented by the Hungarian government were felt across the whole country. In some areas, the lockdown measures could have been unreasonably tight as no reasonable justification for these restrictions was provided. Therefore, territorial monitoring and development of regionally differentiated policies are the main tasks in preparation for further waves of the pandemic. In our opinion, it is necessary to devise an action plan that would regulate the protocols of prevention and protection in connection with the regional focal points (hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc.) and their immediate surroundings. Conclusions. Although territorial aspects have been taken into account by the government in their efforts to contain the pandemic in Hungary, they have been given significantly less attention in terms of socio-economic support. Thus, as the article makes clear, it is important to devise and implement regionally differentiated policies of containment as well as socio-economic protection measures.
COVID-19 járvány , területi egyenlőtlenségek , társadalmi egyenlőtlenségek - Magyarország , társadalmi hatások
R-Economy 6:(3) pp. 208-221. (2020)