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Promotion of (interaction) abstinence increases infection prevalence

Sander Heinsalu

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2021, vol. 186, issue C, 94-112

Abstract: This paper analyses how promoting social distancing changes infection rates and welfare. In the pool of people seeking personal contacts, a greater preference for distance increases the prevalence of infection and worsens everyone’s welfare. In contrast, prevention and treatment reduce prevalence and improve payoffs. The results are driven by adverse selection—people who prefer more matches are likelier disease carriers. A given decrease in the number of matches is a smaller proportional reduction for people with many contacts, thus increases the fraction of infected in the pool. The greater disease risk further decreases contact-seeking and payoffs.

Keywords: Adverse selection; Asymmetric information; Epidemiology; Infectious disease (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D82 D83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.03.013

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:186:y:2021:i:c:p:94-112