The Political Economy of Health Epidemics: Evidence from the Ebola Outbreak

67 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019 Last revised: 16 Feb 2021

See all articles by Elisa M. Maffioli

Elisa M. Maffioli

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Health Management and Policy

Date Written: February 2, 2021

Abstract

This paper investigates whether political incentives affect the government’s response during a health epidemic and the subsequent effects on citizens’ voting behavior. Leveraging novel data, I study this question in the context of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia. The national incumbent government appropriately prioritized the allocation of resources to villages affected by the epidemic. By building a spatiotemporal epidemiological model that estimates the ex-ante optimal allocation of relief efforts, there is also evidence that resources were misallocated toward electoral swing villages. Instead, no resources were diverted toward core supporters or co-ethnic villages. Voters, in turn, reacted by rewarding the national incumbent party in areas where additional resources were misallocated.

Keywords: Health epidemics; political economy; misallocation; Ebola virus

JEL Classification: D61, D72, I15, H12, H51, P16

Suggested Citation

Maffioli, Elisa M., The Political Economy of Health Epidemics: Evidence from the Ebola Outbreak (February 2, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3383187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3383187

Elisa M. Maffioli (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Health Management and Policy ( email )

109 Observatory
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
United States

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