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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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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Kai Barron & Luis F. Gamboa & Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes, 2019. "Behavioural Response to a Sudden Health Risk: Dengue and Educational Outcomes in Colombia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(4), pages 620-644, April.
    3. repec:eee:jhecon:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:40-55 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nathan Yang, 2011. "An Empirical Model of Industry Dynamics with Common Uncertainty and Learning from the Actions of Competitors," Working Papers 11-16, NET Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    SARS; Social learning; Peer effects; Prevalence response; Economic epidemiology; Crisis;

    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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