The Smallpox Eradication Game
Why did the world succeed in eradicating smallpox? Though eradication is a global public good, theory suggests that it should not have been vulnerable to free riding. Some countries, however, lacked the capacity to eliminate smallpox. Success thus depended on the other countries providing assistance. Theory suggests that this public good also should not have been vulnerable to free riding. However, financing proved challenging, even though the global benefit-cost ratio for eradication exceeded 400:1. Contrary to what theory suggests, what may have been the greatest achievement of international cooperation ever was not inevitable. Indeed, it very nearly failed. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007
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