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Testing, Voluntary Social Distancing and the Spread of an Infection

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Ali Makhdoumi
  • Azarakhsh Malekian
  • Asuman Ozdaglar

Abstract

We study the effects of testing policy on voluntary social distancing and the spread of an infection. Agents decide their social activity level, which determines a social network over which the virus spreads. Testing enables the isolation of infected individuals, slowing down the infection. But greater testing also reduces voluntary social distancing or increases social activity, exacerbating the spread of the virus. We show that the effect of testing on infections is non-monotone. This non-monotonicity also implies that the optimal testing policy may leave some of the testing capacity of society unused.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Ali Makhdoumi & Azarakhsh Malekian & Asuman Ozdaglar, 2020. "Testing, Voluntary Social Distancing and the Spread of an Infection," NBER Working Papers 27483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27483
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    Cited by:

    1. Qichun He, 2020. "The COVID-19 Pandemic in a Monetary Schumpeterian Model," Frontiers of Economics in China, IAR, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, vol. 15(4), pages 626-641, December.
    2. Dizioli, Allan & Pinheiro, Roberto, 2021. "Information and inequality in the time of a pandemic," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    3. N. A. Kravchenko & A. I. Ivanova, 2021. "Spread of the COVID-19 In Russia: Regional Peculiarities," Regional Research of Russia, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 428-434, October.
    4. Timo Boppart & Karl Harmenberg & John Hassler & Per Krusell & Jonna Olsson, 2020. "Integrated epi-econ assessment," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 297, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    5. Eduardo Gutiérrez & Enrique Moral-Benito, 2020. "Medidas de contención, evolución del empleo y propagación del Covid-19 en los municipios españoles," Occasional Papers 2022, Banco de España.
    6. Andrew Atkeson & Michael Droste & Michael J. Mina & James H. Stock, 2020. "Economic Benefits of COVID-19 Screening Tests," Staff Report 616, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    7. Yasushi Iwamoto, 2021. "Welfare economics of managing an epidemic: an exposition," The Japanese Economic Review, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 537-579, October.
    8. Joshua S. Gans, 2020. "The Economic Consequences of R̂ = 1: Towards a Workable Behavioural Epidemiological Model of Pandemics," NBER Working Papers 27632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Joshua S. Gans, 2022. "Test sensitivity for infection versus infectiousness of SARS‐CoV‐2," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 43(6), pages 1880-1887, September.
    10. Adriani, Fabrizio & Ladley, Dan, 2021. "Social distance, speed of containment and crowding in/out in a network model of contagion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 190(C), pages 597-625.
    11. Martin F Quaas & Jasper N Meya & Hanna Schenk & Björn Bos & Moritz A Drupp & Till Requate, 2021. "The social cost of contacts: Theory and evidence for the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(3), pages 1-29, March.
    12. Bisin, Alberto & Moro, Andrea, 2022. "JUE insight: Learning epidemiology by doing: The empirical implications of a Spatial-SIR model with behavioral responses," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    13. Gonzalo Castex & Evgenia Dechter & Miguel Lorca, 2021. "COVID-19: The impact of social distancing policies, cross-country analysis," Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 135-159, April.
    14. Hamed Amini & Andreea Minca, 2022. "Epidemic Spreading and Equilibrium Social Distancing in Heterogeneous Networks," Dynamic Games and Applications, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 258-287, March.
    15. Ali Gungoraydinoglu & Ilke Öztekin & Özde Öztekin, 2021. "The Impact of COVID-19 and Its Policy Responses on Local Economy and Health Conditions," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 14(6), pages 1-27, May.
    16. Hübler, Olaf, 2021. "COVID-19 Spread in Germany from a Regional Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 14669, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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