Persistent Patterns of Behavior: Two Infectious Disease Outbreaks 350 Years Apart
Economic Inquiry 2020, DOI: DOI:10.1111/ecin.12961
19 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2020
Date Written: July 2020
Outbreaks of infectious diseases bring behavior and policy responses into sharp focus since societies face acute constraints and uncertainties. This paper compares two infectious disease outbreaks: the COVID-19 pandemic and the 1665 London plague outbreak described by Daniel Defoe in A Journal of the Year of the Plague published in 1722. We compare three aspects: individual behavior, social behavior and governance and find striking similarities in behavior in spite of these events being separated by 350 years. We contend that the same models of behavior can be used to explain human responses during such outbreaks regardless of when they occur.
Keywords: pandemics, infectious diseases, economic behavior, comparative analysis
JEL Classification: A10, B52, Z11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation