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Pandemic Economics and the Transformation of Health Policy


  • Chen, Xi

    (Yale University)

  • Fan, Annie

    (China Health Policy and Management Society)


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is bringing about once-in-a-century changes to human society. This article summarizes key characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic that should be incorporated in economics and health policy analyses. We then review the literature on the importance of public health measures, including taking early, targeted, and coordinated actions, enhancing social safety nets for vulnerable populations, and strengthening public communications. In the long term, addressing misallocation of health resources and improving health governance are critical. Drawing on evidence from past and present epidemics as well as comparing cross-country variations in their responses to the current public health emergency, we navigate long-awaited health reforms in areas that help optimize epidemics response and realign incentives of the major players in the health sector in preparation for the next pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Xi & Fan, Annie, 2021. "Pandemic Economics and the Transformation of Health Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 14061, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14061

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maryaline Catillon & David Cutler & Thomas Getzen, 2018. "Two Hundred Years of Health and Medical Care: The Importance of Medical Care for Life Expectancy Gains," NBER Working Papers 25330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David Holtz & Michael Zhao & Seth G. Benzell & Cathy Y. Cao & Mohammad Amin Rahimian & Jeremy Yang & Jennifer Allen & Avinash Collis & Alex Moehring & Tara Sowrirajan & Dipayan Ghosh & Yunhao Zhang & , 2020. "Interdependence and the cost of uncoordinated responses to COVID-19," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(33), pages 19837-19843, August.
    3. Wong, Li Ping & Wu, Qunhong & Hao, Yanhua & Chen, Xi & Chen, Zhuo & Alias, Haridah & Shen, Mingwang & Hu, Jingcen & Duan, Shiwei & Zhang, Jinjie & Han, Liyuan, 2020. "The Role of Institutional Trust in Medical Care Seeking during the COVID-19 Pandemic," GLO Discussion Paper Series 558, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
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    More about this item


    health governance; healthcare reform; pandemic; COVID-19; global health policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • P41 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health

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