Is it worth it? a brief PS…

Since responding to Toby Young’s article here I’ve come across a few interesting US papers on the economics of pandemics. These studies (which have also been picked up elsewhere) support the view that the coronavirus lockdown is indeed ‘worth it’…

First, a cost-benefit analysis of social distancing for the US, which suggests that the benefits in terms of lives saved could be worth as much as US$8 trillion (40% of GDP)…

Greenstone, Michael and Nigam, Vishan, Does Social Distancing Matter? (March 30, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2020-26.

Second, a study of how different US cities responded to the flu pandemic of 1918: those that intervened earlier and more aggressively ‘do not perform worse and, if anything, grow faster after the pandemic is over‘. 

Correia, Sergio and Luck, Stephan and Verner, Emil, Pandemics Depress the Economy, Public Health Interventions Do Not: Evidence from the 1918 Flu (March 30, 2020)

Finally, a study which finds that a *temporary* deterioration in the economy is actually associated with a small *improvement* in overall health outcomes (an increase in some causes of death, e.g. suicides, is more than offset by other changes, e.g. fewer road traffic accidents). Of course, it might be different for a 25% fall in GDP…

Are recessions good for your health?

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