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Infectious Diseases, Public Policy, and the Marriage of Economics and Epidemiology

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  • Mark Gersovitz
  • Jeffrey S. Hammer

Abstract

The assumption of rational choice helps in understanding how people respond to infectious diseases. People maximize their well-being by choosing levels of prevention and therapy subject to the constraints they face. Objectives and constraints are numerous, necessitating tradeoffs. For example, this approach predicts how people respond to changes in the risk of infection and to the availability of diagnostic tests. The combination of individual rationality with epidemiological models of infection dynamics predicts whether individual choices about infectious disease prevention and therapies produce the best possible social outcomes. If not, individuals' choices generate rationales for government interventions to influence the levels of preventive and therapeutic activities. Optimal policy usually means accepting endemic infection, but at a level lowered by a coordinated package of interventions. Economics combined with epidemiology provides much qualitative guidance on the design of such packages, including immunization programs. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Gersovitz & Jeffrey S. Hammer, 2003. "Infectious Diseases, Public Policy, and the Marriage of Economics and Epidemiology," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 129-157.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:18:y:2003:i:2:p:129-157
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    Cited by:

    1. Marlène Guillon & Josselin Thuilliez, 2015. "HIV and Rational risky behaviors: a systematic review of published empirical literature (1990-2013)," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01222571, HAL.
    2. Antonio C. David & Carmen A. Li, 2010. "Exploring the links between HIV|AIDS, social capital and development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 941-961.
    3. Berthélemy, Jean-Claude & Gaudart, Jean & Thuilliez, Josselin, 2015. "Prevention or treatment? The case of malaria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 16-19.
    4. Stella Alabastro Quimbo, 2006. "Enhancing the private provision of care through premiums for ability: the case of tuberculosis care in the Philippines," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(11), pages 1237-1244.
    5. Mesnard, Alice & Seabright, Paul, 2008. "Migration and The Equilibrium Prevalence of Infectious Diseases," CEPR Discussion Papers 6651, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Gabriel Picone & Robyn Kibler & Bénédicte H. Apouey, 2013. "Malaria prevalence, indoor residual spraying, and insecticide-treated net usage in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers halshs-00911364, HAL.
    7. Fenichel, Eli P., 2013. "Economic considerations for social distancing and behavioral based policies during an epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 440-451.
    8. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2007. "Market structure and communicable diseases," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 468-492, May.
    9. Momota, Akira & Tabata, Ken & Futagami, Koichi, 2005. "Infectious disease and preventive behavior in an overlapping generations model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1673-1700, October.
    10. Gabriel Picone & Robyn Kibler & Benedicte Apouey, 2013. "Individuals’ Preventive Behavioral Response to Changes in Malaria Risks and Government Interventions: Evidence from six African countries," Working Papers 0313, University of South Florida, Department of Economics.
    11. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Risky Sexual Behavior, Testing and New HIV Treatments," Working Papers tecipa-239, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    12. Na Hao & Gervan Fearon, 2009. "Government Funding Policy Towards Communicable Diseases," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 37(2), pages 121-134, June.
    13. Rowthorn, Robert & Toxvaerd, Flavio, 2012. "The Optimal Control of Infectious Diseases via Prevention and Treatment," CEPR Discussion Papers 8925, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Gersovitz, Mark & Hammer, Jeffrey S., 2005. "Tax/subsidy policies toward vector-borne infectious diseases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 647-674, April.
    15. 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.
    16. Gabriel Picone & Robyn Kibler & Bénédicte H. Apouey, 2017. "Malaria Prevalence, Indoor Residual Spraying, and Insecticide Treated Net Usage in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 19-32.
    17. Sheikh Shahnawaz, 2011. "Infectious disease outbreak and trade policy formulation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(4), pages 2959-2967.
    18. Troy Tassier & Philip Polgreen & Alberto Segre, 2015. "Vaccination Games with Peer Effects in a Heterogeneous Hospital Worker Population," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, January.
    19. Berry, Kevin & Finnoff, David & Horan, Richard D. & Shogren, Jason F., 2015. "Managing the endogenous risk of disease outbreaks with non-constant background risk," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 166-179.
    20. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-01222571 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Telalagic, S., 2012. "Optimal Treatment of an SIS Disease with Two Strains," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1229, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    22. Sabine Liebenehm & Bernard Bett & Cristobal Verdugo & Mohamed Said, 2016. "Optimal Drug Control under Risk of Drug Resistance – The Case of African Animal Trypanosomosis," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(2), pages 510-533, June.
    23. Gabriel Picone & Robyn Kibler & Bénédicte H. Apouey, 2017. "Malaria Prevalence, Indoor Residual Spraying, and Insecticide Treated Net Usage in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 19-32.

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