The shape of the corporate sector is the second consideration.
Economies with a large share of small firms are more likely to be scarred by long shutdowns.
Minnows tend to have few if any cash buffers, making it hard for them to survive a drought in revenues.
A survey by researchers at the University of Chicago, Harvard University and the University of Illinois
finds that a quarter of small firms in America do not have enough cash on hand to last even a month.
Nearly half of Italians and Australians work for firms with fewer than ten employees, compared with a fifth in Britain and an even lower share in America.
A third determinant of the economic pain to come is the nature of fiscal support.
Rich countries have deployed stimulus on an unprecedented scale. Even by the most conservative estimate,
these packages are more than twice as large as in 2008-09. But the size of the stimulus varies widely across countries.
Most tallies find that support in America and Japan is the most generous, as a share of GDP;
investors, who see their assets as a haven, are happy to provide the necessary funding.
Yet some euro-area governments with high debt levels are more cautious, perhaps constrained by the fear that,
as members of a currency union, they enjoy only a partial backstop from the central bank.
The average fiscal boost in France, Spain and Italy, as a share of GDP, is about half of that provided in Germany.
The design of the stimulus, though, matters as much as its size.
Broadly speaking, rich countries have taken one of two approaches to preserving living standards.
Some are concentrating on supplementing household incomes.
America is sending cheques to families and making unemployment benefits far more generous; Japan is offering handouts to the needy.
By contrast, policy in northern Europe and Australia aims mostly to maintain employment by subsidising wages.
Government pledges to protect jobs are normally a bad idea.
They prevent workers moving from failing sectors to up-and-coming ones, slowing the recovery. The coronavirus recession may be different, however.
If the lockdowns are lifted soon, some European economies will be able to resume production quickly.
Elsewhere workers will have to search for jobs, and bosses to hire them.
Some American workers will even do better to stay on benefits than find work; according to Noah Williams of the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
benefits in six states could exceed 130% of the average wage.
That will mean it takes longer for GDP to recover its pre-pandemic level once the lockdowns lift.
Instead of leading to a painful few months, the damage could be much longer-lasting.