Epidemics and Economics
This paper discusses the links between income and infectious disease epidemics and asks how such links are affected by changing global circumstances. Having money and living in a prosperous society protects individuals against health setbacks in general and epidemics in particular. Healthy people get more education, are more productive in the work force, attract foreign investment, and save more. As better health leads to de-creases in family size, the consequent change in a country's age structure can boost eco-nomic growth. Epidemics can obstruct these effects by changing expectations about how well an economy will function and by deterring investment and tourism. In many instances, the immediate costs of an epidemic are apparent, while the long-term costs are unclear. However, when we include the value of human life in the cost, it becomes clear that epidemics are extremely costly. Preventing epidemics requires overcoming a range of obstacles, as does responding to an epidemic once it begins. Globally, long-term vulnerability to epidemics may decrease as development standards rise, but a more highly interconnected world may actually promote the occurrence of infectious disease epidemics.
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