The first, led by Julian Kozlowski of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, finds that the experience of the coronavirus and ensuing recession could make people and businesses less likely to resume their previous spending and investment patterns, which would have an extended stunting effect on economic growth.

The second, led by Cevat Giray Aksoy of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, finds that people who endure a pandemic in young adulthood tend to be more distrustful of government institutions for the rest of their lives, an outcome that makes it more difficult for governments to effectively respond to future pandemics.

Taken together, the studies bolster a view increasingly voiced by experts: there may never be a “return to normal.” Rather, the ill effects of the pandemic will resonate long after an effective coronavirus treatment is discovered…

The authors contend such an erosion of trust can become self-reinforcing. “One can envisage a scenario where low levels of trust allow an epidemic to spread,” the study noted in its conclusion, “and where the spread of the epidemic reduces trust in government still further, hindering the ability of the authorities to contain future epidemics and address other social problems.”