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On the distributional consequences of epidemics

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  • Raouf Boucekkine
  • Jean-Pierre Laffargue

Abstract

We develop a tractable general theory for the study of the economic and demographic impact of epidemics, and notably its distributional consequences. To this end, we develop a three-period overlapping generations model where altruistic parents choose optimal health expenditures for their children and themselves. The survival probability of (junior) adults and children depends on such investments. Agents can be skilled or unskilled. The model emphasizes the role of orphans. Orphans are not only penalized in the face of death, they are also penalized in the access to education. Epidemics are modeled as one period exogenous shocks to the survival rates. We specifically study the consequence of a negative shock on adult survival rates in the first period. We prove that while the epidemic has no permanent effect on income distribution, it can perfectly alter it in the short and medium run. In particular, the epidemic may imply a worsening in the short and medium run of both economic performance and income distribution. Two opposite mechanisms are isolated: first, the survival rate of children at the end of the first period decreases relatively more in poor than in wealthy families. This decreases the proportion of junior adults with a low endowment of human capital in period 2. Secondly, the number of orphans in period 1 increases in both families. This decreases the proportion of junior adults with a low endowment of human capital in period 2. Therefore, the proportion of the unskilled will necessarily increase in the medium run if orphans are too penalized in the access to a high level of education.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 2009_22.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2009_22

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Keywords: Epidemics; orphans; income distribution; endogenous survival; medium-term dynamics;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gregory Ponthiere, 2013. "Fair Accumulation under Risky Lifetime," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(2), pages 210-230, 05.
  2. PESTIEAU, Pierre & PONTHIERE, Grégory, . "The public economics of increasing longevity," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2464, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Pichler, Stefan, 2012. "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? The Impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic on Economic Performance in Sweden," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 57149, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL).
  4. Augier, Laurent & Yaly, Amy, 2013. "Economic growth and disease in the OLG model: The HIV/AIDS case," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 471-481.
  5. Goulão, Catarina & Pérez-Barahona, Agustín, 2011. "Intergenerational transmission of non-communicable chronic diseases," TSE Working Papers 11-219, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  6. Azomahou, Theophile & Soete, Luc & Diene, Bity & Diene, Mbaye, 2012. "Optimal health investment with separable and non-separable preferences," MERIT Working Papers 047, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  7. Vasilakis, Chrysovalantis, 2011. "Fighting poverty and child malnutrition: on the design of foreign aid policies," MPRA Paper 30066, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00676492 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. repec:hal:psewpa:halshs-00746913 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Bell, Clive & Gersbach, Hans, 2013. "Growth and enduring epidemic diseases," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 2083-2103.
  11. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00746913 is not listed on IDEAS

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