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An Economic Model of Health-vs-Wealth Prioritization during Covid-19: Optimal Lockdown, Network Centrality, and Segregation

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  • Pongou, Roland
  • Tchuente, Guy
  • Tondji, Jean-Baptiste

Abstract

We address the problem of finding the optimal lockdown and reopening policy during a pandemic like COVID-19 for a social planner who prioritizes health over the economy. Agents are connected through a fuzzy network of contacts, and the planner's objective is to determine the policy that contains the spread of infection below a tolerable incidence level, and that maximizes the present discounted value of real income, in that order of priority. We show theoretically that the planner's problem has a unique solution. The optimal policy depends both on the configuration of the contact network and the tolerated infection incidence. Using simulations, we apply these theoretical findings to: (i) quantify the trade-off between the economic cost of the pandemic and the infection incidence allowed by the social planner, and show how this trade-off depends on network configuration; (ii) understand the correlation between different measures of network centrality and individual lockdown probability, and derive implications for the optimal design of surveys on social distancing behavior and network structure; and (iii) analyze how segregation induces differential health and economic dynamics in minority and majority populations, also illustrating the crucial role of patient zero in these dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Pongou, Roland & Tchuente, Guy & Tondji, Jean-Baptiste, 2020. "An Economic Model of Health-vs-Wealth Prioritization during Covid-19: Optimal Lockdown, Network Centrality, and Segregation," GLO Discussion Paper Series 667, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:667
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fernando E. Alvarez & David Argente & Francesco Lippi, 2020. "A Simple Planning Problem for COVID-19 Lockdown," NBER Working Papers 26981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo & Mathias Trabandt, 2020. "The Macroeconomics of Epidemics," NBER Working Papers 26882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dingel, Jonathan I. & Neiman, Brent, 2020. "How many jobs can be done at home?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    4. Pongou, Roland & Tondji, Jean-Baptiste, 2018. "Valuing inputs under supply uncertainty: The Bayesian Shapley value," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 206-224.
    5. Cleo Anastassopoulou & Lucia Russo & Athanasios Tsakris & Constantinos Siettos, 2020. "Data-based analysis, modelling and forecasting of the COVID-19 outbreak," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(3), pages 1-21, March.
    6. Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús & Jones, Charles I, 2020. "Estimating and Simulating a SIRD Model of COVID-19 for Many Countries, States, and Cities," CEPR Discussion Papers 14711, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Bethune, Zachary & Korinek, Anton, 2020. "COVID-19 Infection Externalities: Trading Off Lives vs. Livelihoods," CEPR Discussion Papers 14596, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Fernando Alvarez & David Argente, 2020. "A Simple Planning Problem for COVID-19 Lockdown," Working Papers 2020-34, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    9. Robert S. Pindyck, 2020. "COVID-19 and the Welfare Effects of Reducing Contagion," NBER Working Papers 27121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jakina Debnam Guzman & Marie Christelle Mabeu & Roland Pongou, 2021. "Identity During a Pandemic: COVID-19 and Ethnic Divisions in the United States," Working Papers 2101E Classification-I14,, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    11. Roland Pongou & Roberto Serrano, 2013. "Fidelity Networks and Long-Run Trends in HIV/AIDS Gender Gaps," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 298-302, May.
    12. Jeffrey E. Harris, 2020. "The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City," NBER Working Papers 27021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Pongou, Roland & Serrano, Roberto, 2016. "Volume of trade and dynamic network formation in two-sided economies," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 147-163.
    14. Emily Breza & Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Tyler H. McCormick & Mengjie Pan, 2020. "Using Aggregated Relational Data to Feasibly Identify Network Structure without Network Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(8), pages 2454-2484, August.
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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Economic policy > Policy trade-offs

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    1. Jakina Debnam Guzman & Marie Christelle Mabeu & Roland Pongou, 2021. "Identity During a Pandemic: COVID-19 and Ethnic Divisions in the United States," Working Papers 2101E Classification-I14,, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; health-vs-wealth prioritization; economic cost; fuzzy networks; network centrality; segregation; patient zero; optimally targeted lockdown policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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