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Learning during a crisis: The SARS epidemic in Taiwan

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  • Bennett, Daniel
  • Chiang, Chun-Fang
  • Malani, Anup

Abstract

SARS struck Taiwan in 2003, causing a national crisis. Many people feared that SARS would spread through the health care system, and outpatient visits fell by more than 30% in the course of a few weeks. We examine how both public information and the behavior and opinions of peers contributed to this reaction. We identify a peer effect through a difference-in-difference comparison of longtime residents and recent arrivals, who are less socially connected. Although several forms of social interaction may contribute to this pattern, social learning is a plausible explanation for our finding. We find that people respond to both public information and to their peers. In a dynamic simulation based on the regressions, social interactions substantially magnify the response to SARS.

Suggested Citation

  • Bennett, Daniel & Chiang, Chun-Fang & Malani, Anup, 2015. "Learning during a crisis: The SARS epidemic in Taiwan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 1-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:112:y:2015:i:c:p:1-18
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.09.006
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    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > SARS

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    4. Mendolia, Silvia & Stavrunova, Olena & Yerokhin, Oleg, 2021. "Determinants of the community mobility during the COVID-19 epidemic: The role of government regulations and information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 199-231.
    5. Jorge M. Agüero & Trinidad Beleche, 2016. "Health Shocks and the Long-Lasting Change in Health Behaviors: Evidence from Mexico," Working papers 2016-26, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    6. Gavin M. Schwarz & Kuo-Pin Yang & Christine Chou & Yu-Jen Chiu, 2020. "A classification of structural inertia: Variations in structural response," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 33-63, March.
    7. Ko, Hansoo, 2021. "Behavioral responses to the 2015 MERS epidemic in Korea," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C).
    8. Rangel, Marcos & Nobles, Jenna & Hamoudi, Amar, 2019. "Brazil's Missing Infants: Zika Risk Changes Reproductive Behavior," SocArXiv fu8bp, Center for Open Science.
    9. Alberto Ciancio & Fabrice Kämpfen & Iliana V Kohler & Daniel Bennett & Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Jill Darling & Arie Kapteyn & Jürgen Maurer & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2020. "Know your epidemic, know your response: Early perceptions of COVID-19 and self-reported social distancing in the United States," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(9), pages 1-11, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    SARS; Social learning; Peer effects; Prevalence response; Economic epidemiology; Crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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