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Effects of COVID-19 on globalisation and migration

Effects of COVID-19 on globalisation and migration


Theoretical modelling by a group of pandemic researchers has shown that populations typically disperse following major global crises, including contagions.

A team at The University of Sydney led by Professor Mikhail Prokopenko, as part of an ARC Discovery Project, suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic will not spell the end of globalisation and migration.

Disease outbreaks, civil unrest and war often bring about the biggest movements of people. The end of the Second World War saw the largest movement of people in Europe’s history, with millions settling in Australia in the decades following 1945.

‘While many countries’ borders have been closed, making migration virtually impossible, a post-pandemic world might look very different,’ says Professor Prokopenko, who contributed to the G08 COVID-19 Federal Advisory report, Roadmap to Recovery.

‘Our theoretical modelling suggested that, when faced with either threat or opportunity, people tend to avoid risks, seek an advantage, or both. One can stretch these scenarios and imagine how attractive a destination Australia may appear if the local transmission of COVID-19 is eliminated in our country.’

People who have been affected by economic collapse or worsened health conditions may consider short-term or even long-term relocation to safer regions.

The theoretical model worked by tracing a ‘contagion’ spread in an abstract geographical region, where ‘people’ make choices to stay or move around. The method looked at how changes in individual preferences affect the behaviour of a large population.


Other examples of wider contagion phenomena which can be modelled include social segregation, ‘Infodemics’ (waves of misinformation), and social unrest


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