The Fight Against COVID-19: The Gap Between Epidemiologic and Economic Approaches

Jean Philippe Platteau, Shlomo Weber, Hans Wiesmeth

Research output: Contribution in Book/Catalog/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Epidemiologists use certain models (SIR or SEIR models, for example) to describe the natural evolution of an epidemic or a pandemic. The parameters of these models are based on various assumptions regarding biological and social key parameters. In contrast to this approach, economists consider human actions as the outcome of optimizing behavior based on private costs, benefits, and beliefs, which are especially important for identifying vaccination strategies. The corresponding literature can be divided into two types depending on whether individuals are assumed to operate freely in a decentralized manner or are subject to the public prescriptions of a central decision-maker acting as a benevolent social planner. This paper explores this literature and provides various examples showing, in particular, that this economic approach can help to explain part of the difference between the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections and the number predicted by epidemiological models.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiffusive Spreading in Nature, Technology and Society, Second Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031059469
ISBN (Print)9783031059452
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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