Modeling to Inform Economy-Wide Pandemic Policy: Bringing Epidemiologists and Economists Together
Abstract: Facing unprecedented uncertainty and drastic trade-offs between public health and other forms of human well-being, policymakers during the Covid-19 pandemic have sought the guidance of epidemiologists and economists. Unfortunately, while both groups of scientists use many of the same basic mathematical tools, the models they develop to inform policy tend to rely on different sets of assumptions and, thus, often lead to different policy conclusions. This divergence in policy recommendations can lead to uncertainty and confusion, opening the door to disinformation, distrust of institutions, and politicization of scientific facts. Unfortunately, to date, there have not been widespread efforts to build bridges and find consensus or even to clarify sources of differences across these fields, members of whom often continue to work within their traditional academic silos. In response to this "crisis of communication," we convened a group of scholars from epidemiology, economics, and related fields (such as statistics, engineering, and health policy) to discuss approaches to modeling economy-wide pandemics. We summarize these conversations by providing a consensus view of disciplinary differences (including critiques) and working through a specific policy example. Thereafter, we chart a path forward for more effective synergy among disciplines, which we hope will lead to better policies as the current pandemic evolves and future pandemics emerge.
Keywords: economics; epidemiology; public health; Covid-19; behavior modeling; health outcomes; health-wealth tradeoffs;
JEL Classification: C8; H0; I1; J0;
Status: Published in 2021
File(s): File format is application/pdf https://www.atlantafed.org/-/media/documents/research/publications/wp/2021/11/16/26--modeling-pandemic-policy.pdf
Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Part of Series: FRB Atlanta Working Paper
Publication Date: 2021-11-16
Note: This paper represents a collaborative effort. All authors contributed equally and are thus listed in alphabetical order. The project was supported by a pilot grant from the Hopkins Business of Health Initiative (HBHI). The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors' responsibility.