« The Economics of the Flu Epidemic--Posner | Main | Announcement-Posner »



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Some Economics of Flu Pandemics-Becker:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Travis, Family Resources

Someone here has the misconception that the powers-to-be plan on containing pandemics, just as most have the misconception that the people who created the controlled demolition of the worlds' economy, now plan on repairing the economy.

Not to be rude, nor disrespectful, but someone here needs to stop reading corporately controlled medias, or they will continue believing that Al Qaeda is a threat to the people who live under the control of the corporation known as THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA and that Iran is the bad guy.


Becker's method of estimating the costs is a bit puzzling.

"To get a monetary value of the aggregate cost of another such great pandemic, we assume that the comparable statistical values of life in other countries equal $5 million times the ratio of the per capita incomes to the US per capita income. For example, the statistical value of life for a typical young person in a country with half the per capita income of the US would be $2.5 million. Then if we assume that the same percent of the population would die from such a pandemic in all countries, the total cost of a pandemic equal in severity to the Great Pandemic would be over $100 trillion. This is such a huge amount that it is hard to visualize. It dwarfs in magnitude the effects of such a pandemic on world GDP, the economic effects that are usually calculated."

........... where does he get the $5 mill worth of life? From wrongful death awards?

......... as a practical matter few would have that much, even those with most "insurance" coverages. In nation of "half the ......... income" it would be yet harder to raise such funds.

...... then in the case of flu how would that amount be spent? Even, were it available, under pandemic conditions, a week or month in intensive care would top out at $50k -$100k or so.

As a practical matter in a "2.8%" pandemic such care would be available to very few. But I fully agree with his conclusion that it would be wise to invest in anti-virals, vaccines.......... and preventative measures.

Perhaps a good start is a strong memo from management to stay home at the first sign of symptoms; looks like a few lost days even on a false positive or a bit of feather-bedding is a bargain!


WOW!!! Think of the stimulus value of 100 trillion spent, not to mention millions fewer people to demand social services. This could be a governmental resuce plan.


On the other hand, most of the flora and fauna of the earth would rejoice if half the human population disappeared overnight. And a young child's life and a old fart's life must be "worth" a whole lot less than $5M, though Medicare and Medicaid will happily pay more than that to keep either alive for two more weeks.

We learned from the 9/11 disaster that a poor, single, orphaned, childfree person's life is worth a whole hell of a lot less than that of a married insurance broker family guy with 4 kids polluting the atmosphere.

Indeed, I would pay a lot to someone who could put birth control in all the world's water.


–ß—ë—Ä—Ç –≤–æ–∑—å–º–∏! –ö—Ä—É—Ç–æ!–í—ã –°–∞–º–∏ –æ—Ç–≤–µ—Ç–∏–ª–∏.–ë–µ—Ä—É –≤ —Ü–∏—Ç–Ω–∏–∫! –°–º—ã—Å–ª –∂–∏–∑–Ω–∏ –∏ –≤—Å—ë –æ—Å—Ç–∞–ª—å–Ω–æ–µ. –†–µ—à–µ–Ω–æ.–ë–µ–∑ —à—É—Ç–æ–∫.


–ë–æ–ª—å—à–æ–µ –≤–∞–º –Ω–µ —á–µ–ª–æ–≤–µ—á–µ—Å–∫–æ–µ —Å–ø–∞—Å–∏–±–æ. –í–µ—Å—å –º–∞—Ç–µ—Ä–∏–∞–ª –æ—á–µ–Ω—å –∏–Ω—Ç–µ—Ä–µ—Å–Ω—ã–π –∏ —É–≤–ª–∏–∫–∞—Ç–µ–ª—å–Ω—ã–π.


–ë–æ–ª—å—à–æ–µ –≤–∞–º –Ω–µ —á–µ–ª–æ–≤–µ—á–µ—Å–∫–æ–µ —Å–ø–∞—Å–∏–±–æ. –í–µ—Å—å –º–∞—Ç–µ—Ä–∏–∞–ª –æ—á–µ–Ω—å –∏–Ω—Ç–µ—Ä–µ—Å–Ω—ã–π –∏ —É–≤–ª–∏–∫–∞—Ç–µ–ª—å–Ω—ã–π.


It is an exaggeration to claim such a large damage from the flu pandemics. If we take the figure of 20 trillion dollars for 60 million lives seriously, Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward and The Great Cultural Revolution should have already wiped out 20 trillion dollars from China's wealth that is almost 5 times today's GDP of China per year!


Hi.. this is a very informative post


If 3% of Americans were ill enough to require hospitalization from the flu, each of the 6000 hospitals in the US would have to admit an average of 1666 patients. Since the average hospital bed size is somewhere around 150, this might represent a problem, not to mention that many of the care givers would be ill and unable to function. In Europe, it would be even woese. On any given day in the UK, there are 1 million people waiting to get into a hospital. Rationing you say?

runescap gold

Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago and have been reading it over the past few days.

Wm Whitaker

In King County Washington in the winter of 2008 there were several days during Jan. and Feb. that the incidence of flu was so great that no beds were available in any hospital or emergency room in the county. Consequently acutely ill patients regardless of their illness were directed to the counties bordering Seattle to the north.

To date the number of deaths from the highly publicized avian flu, and Saars earlier this decade and this current round of swine flu are much less than the annual death toll from "common influenza".

Public health should be less enamored with the sensational and more attentive to the common. Sound economic as well as health policy is much better served by such a mundane but imminently sensible practice.

EquiisAutisticSavant, J.D.

With all due respect to everyone on this blog, why debate the economics of the swine flu epidemic and not the more significant so-called "autism epidemic ?" I am a diagnosed prodigious savant person with high functioning autism, both in art (see my URL and go to Gallery for savant art and law school savant doodles) and in the law. Denied bar admission for 20 years for no reason other than fear of admitting anyone with autism can really be a lawyer, resulting in lack of access to those of us who "Think in Pictures," our Nation is about to embark on selecting a new Supreme Court Justice from yet more left-brain linear thinkers who only use half their brain -- the left part, instead of nominating and confirming our first Michaelangelo in American history to the Supreme Court -- a person diagnosed with autism.

If President Obama is looking for "the best and brightest," why would anyone who is not counted among the membership of the 30 or so prodigious savant geniuses in the world be selected ?

The tragedy of the autism epidemic, as compared to the swine flu epidemic, is our continued failure to nominate and confirm a diagnosed prodigious savant person with autism (and a Juris Doctorate degree !) who can and does use both halves: the left and right parts of the brain -- all and not part of the entire visuo-spatial and polyglot language parts of the whole human brain

And if the autism epidemic must continue because we only presently have a left-brain Supreme Court, then it is my considered autistic opinion we should ask Congress to establish a counterpart right-brain "Thinking in Pictures" Supreme Court corollary.


I agree with Prof Becker, but we have to consider market failures. In the case of antivirals we know that they are effective, at the best of our knowledge, against a pandemic flu, but public authorities face ambiguity about pandemic occurrence and they have to face huge cost now. WHO recomends at least antivirals for 25-30% of population in every Country. LDCs do not have money to buy them and supply capacity is given. What about a failure in supply side, not enough supply able to face the suggested stockpile of antivirals, and in demand side, high price prevents stockpiling of antivirals? Is there the room for a liability to make generic producers able to increase the supply at an administrated price?
Vaccines are a public goods, but there is a given capacity of production at most the global capacity is one and half bl. of doses. The supply is not elastic and firms are risk averse as a consequence they produce a new vaccine if and only if they have a market risk sharing. There is ambiguity about the possible outbreak of a pandemic flu as prof Becker says, than how to overcome this shortage? What about a trust fund public and private financed by an hypotecated tax on medical sales to finance production of vaccines for global and neglected diseases?



I agree with most of what you said but be careful where your drugs come from. Check out the site below.



Jim, thanks! As a VA patient I'm not tempted, nor forced by circumstance to bootlegging my prescriptions. And Ha! assuming a functioning market, if WE make the pills here surely they SHOULD be cheapest here.

But! if we do "believe" in globalism and import foods from everywhere that we eat on a daily basis surely we can import drugs, safely, from Europe, the UK, Japan, Canada and others, each of which have longer life spans than the US while spending just over half as much for health care.

Roy D. Schickedanz

We live in a society where the mass media directs our understanding and knowledge of what is happening in our world, driven by entertainment more than anything else.

No doubt, the recent swine flu outbreak was over blown having governments and the public running around with their heads off.

Carrying wolf will present a serious problem of dealing with real thing when it happens.

Roy D. Schickedanz


شات صوتي


Excellent book; thanks for writing it.

Other than one paragraph on page 273, you didn't talk much about the budget deficits which really began early in the Reagan Administration, and averaged between $200 and $400 billion a year through Reagan and Geoge HW Bush. Of course, these continued on George W. Bush. You focus on the increase in the federal deficit (from roughly $1 trillion in 1980 to close to $10 trillion in late 2008). In addition to the negative impact this deficit has on our ability to deal with the current recession, as a follower of Keynes, I would argue that the Republican administrations artificially stimulated the economy for many years, and that this also contributed to the bubble in both housing and investments.

Another factor that has concerned me for years, and is evident in the auto industry, is one of excess productive capacity in many industries (e.g., commercial real estate, obviously housing, many types of manufactured products). This overhang of excess capacity worries me in terms of the timing, magnitude and shape of any economic recovery.

In comparing our current situation with the Great Depression (which I remember as a child), one big difference is the number of two-income households today compared to the 1930s. Unemployment is bad, but it seems to me that there is often at least one wage earner in the family. In my view, this somewhat mitigates the impact of high unemployment on working-age families.

Finally, and this has nothing to do with the main thrust of your outstanding book, I was not surprised but a little disappointed that you accept the arguments for man-made global warming. I am a Democrat who tried to analyze the arguments, pro and con, earlier this year, and concluded that the case had not been made for man-made global warming. If you are interested in our analysis (my brother who was with EPA for 30 years is a co-author), I would be glad to send it to you.

Again, thanks for your service to our country, both on the Federal bench and as a writer and analyst of the economy.

Dean C. Coddington ([email protected])
8282 South Peninsula Drive
Littleton, CO 80120


Jailed for Drawing Cartoons!!!!!!!!

Ever heard that before?

Read it now: Mid Day Contempt Controversy : Cartoonist Irfan & 3 of his colleagues were sentenced for four months by Delhi High Court over making a cartoon on former Chief Justice of India'.

Cartoon is the most visible democracy index.

However, Cartooning had sent 4 Mid-Day journalists to jail for 4 Months! Incredible, isn’t it?

Cartoons – loved by all the ages are not mere disfigured sketches in black & white, but rather are more alive than the most of the living groups.

Cartoons – have got the power to speak truth in the most humble way!

Cartoons – don’t fear to be like or disliked, they are very honest in their manner and they mirror the real complex life in simple and plain manner.

Cartoons on the Former Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal sketched by Irfan Khan of Mid-Day newspaper raised many eyebrows, which was showing the peoples’ view of Sabharwal’s dealing. The whole Mid-Day team was held guilty and sentenced to four months' imprisonment. The issue brought the media around the world together in protest. The case is still pending in the Supreme Court of India.

I bet now you would you like to see more of him, so go ahead and entertain yourself with all matters of mind explained through simple cartoons! You are welcome in the world of Cartoons by Irfan!

Click here to read all…

……… and the fight continues in Supreme Court of India till date...


There will be times when new unkown sickness will appear on earth. Medicine will not know how to cure them. But there is hope for those that want to do the work. A free gift for humanity is available. No group to join, no money required. Any human being, regardless of skin color, religion, political or religious position has the potential within. Please ask for a free book at www.hercolubus.tv. It has the practices to prepare yourself. No one can do the job for you. You and you alone can prepare for what is already happening: Floods, Earthquakes, Global Warming, Pandemics, World wars etc.


thanks 2


مركز تحميل


Swine flu has dealt a major blow to Mexico's already battered economy. Many popular tourist destinations have shut down and some commerce has come to a halt.that is the economic impact Flu Pandemics caused....:(ED Hardy,ED Hardy


Beautiful site! ,

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Become a Fan

March 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31