A Simple, Non-Recursive Model of the Spread of COVID-19 with Applications to Policy

21 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2020 Last revised: 8 May 2020

See all articles by Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden

Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden

Universitaet Mannheim; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: April 16, 2020


The paper presents early research on problems that make an application of the basic SIR-model of epidemiology difficult for short- and medium-run policy. The model essentially generalizes the simple SIR model in two respects. First, it generalizes the relation n_t = βY_t to account for the structure of the infectious population and introduces the concept of the "cohort composition kernel" that generalizes the aggregate transmission function and renders the transmission model non-recursive. Second, it shows how policy measures such as testing, social distancing, or quarantine rules can affect this kernel and how this can provide estimates for the impact and lag of non-pharmaceutical policy interventions.

Keywords: COVID-19, SIR model, economic policy

JEL Classification: C51, C54, C82, D80, E17, H12, I18

Suggested Citation

von Thadden, Ernst-Ludwig, A Simple, Non-Recursive Model of the Spread of COVID-19 with Applications to Policy (April 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580767 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3580767

Ernst-Ludwig Von Thadden (Contact Author)

Universitaet Mannheim ( email )

Department of Economics
Mannheim, 68131

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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