Interaction, protection and epidemics

Sanjeev Goyal, Adrien Vigier

Photo: Elsevier

Published in:

Journal of Public Economics Volume 125, May 2015, Pages 64–69

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.02.010


Individuals respond to the risk of contagious infections by restricting interaction and by investing in protection. We develop a model that examines the trade-off between these two actions and the consequences for infection rates. There exists a unique equilibrium: individuals who invest in protection choose to interact more relative to those who do not invest in protection. Changes in the contagiousness of the disease have non-monotonic effects: as a result interaction initially falls and then rises, while infection rates too may initial increase and then decline. We then consider a society with two communities that differ in their returns from interaction — High and Low. Individuals in isolated communities exhibit different behavior: the High community has a higher rate of protection and interaction, and a lower rate of infection. Integration amplifies these differences.

Published Dec. 15, 2015 2:29 PM - Last modified Dec. 16, 2015 3:08 PM