Automatons or Individuals? Voluntary Responses to COVID-19 Related Epidemic Externalities

The Independent Review, 25 (4)

24 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2020 Last revised: 17 Dec 2021

See all articles by Byron Carson

Byron Carson

Hampden-Sydney College - Economics and Business Department

Date Written: November 21, 2020

Abstract

Individuals partially internalize epidemic externalities by limiting infectious behavior and encouraging preventative behavior, which happens voluntarily when prevalence and mortality rates rise. This essay develops the logic of responsiveness from a subjective perspective and recognizes the role individuals play in the transmission and prevention of outbreaks and epidemics by focusing on voluntary changes in behavior, innovative means of prevention, and changes in rules. While responsiveness applies to all cases of infectious diseases involving people, examples from the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States support and clarify the logic. Responsiveness, viewed as a voluntary phenomenon, implies that the effectiveness of many governmental public health policies is overstated, that herd immunity depends on responsiveness, and that public health agencies can improve their fight against infectious diseases by promoting the entrepreneurial efforts of individuals.

Keywords: Subjectivism, epidemic externalities, entrepreneurship, innovation, rules

Suggested Citation

Carson, Byron, Automatons or Individuals? Voluntary Responses to COVID-19 Related Epidemic Externalities (November 21, 2020). The Independent Review, 25 (4), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3734711 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3734711

Byron Carson (Contact Author)

Hampden-Sydney College - Economics and Business Department ( email )

Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
United States

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