Can Governments Deal with Pandemics?

16 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020 Last revised: 3 Dec 2021

See all articles by Vincent Geloso

Vincent Geloso

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Ilia Murtazashvili

University of Pittsburgh - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: August 11, 2020

Abstract

While few economists dispute that governments should have some role in dealing with pandemics, the relevant institutional question is whether governments can deal with pandemics. In this article, we argue that there are trade-offs embedded with the provision of public health measures. States that are better able to effectively deal with pandemics require a great deal of capacity to implement coercive measures such as economic lockdowns or quarantines. Such capacity is associated with a lesser ability to generate economic growth and harness its palliative effects with regards to other health dimensions. As a nation’s institutions are “bundles” (i.e. one takes the wheat with the chaff), there are nations doomed to deal poorly with pandemics, at least in the short run. Despite the positive and normative case for government-involvement in public health, effective involvements may be outside the range of institutional possibilities.

Keywords: Public health, political economy, smallpox, COVID-19, institutions, economic history

JEL Classification: I15, I38, H40

Suggested Citation

Geloso, Vincent and Murtazashvili, Ilia, Can Governments Deal with Pandemics? (August 11, 2020). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 21-33, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3671634 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3671634

Vincent Geloso (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Ilia Murtazashvili

University of Pittsburgh - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260-0001
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
216
Abstract Views
1,268
rank
195,164
PlumX Metrics