Title: A behavioural economist’s musings on the epidemiology of COVID-19 

Speaker: Dr Jayanta Sarkar, School of Economics and Finance (QUT)

Time and date: 11am-12pm, Monday 2 August 2021.

Location: Room 14-522 Sir Llew Executive Boardroom

About the seminar

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a flurry of research in mathematical epidemiology to better predict the propagation of infection with increasingly complex models. Although health behaviour of the infected individuals is an important factor in the spread, epidemiological modelling has not incorporated the interaction between human behaviour and disease dynamics. The framework presented here is the first attempt to integrate economics behaviour in a canonical model of epidemiology. This behavioural-epidemiological model shows the propagation and measured outcomes of COVID-19 and similar infectious disease are dependent on the economic incentives generated in response to the disease itself. Model simulations with endogenous behavioural responses suggest significantly higher infection and fatality rates than are predicted by the standard model or reported in data. The analysis accounts for, at least partly, the hitherto unexplained ‘excess deaths’ and suggests the need for mass-testing for effective containment of the epidemic, given everything else.

About the presenter

Dr Jayanta Sarkar is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Queensland University of Technology with a wide range of interests from macroeconomics to applied, behavioural and health economics. His research in health economics has recently been presented with the prestigious ‘best paper award by an Australian’ by the Australian Health Economics Society. His current research includes occupational variations in health outcomes, effects of early preschool attendance on child health and behavioural implications of daylight saving.


Sir Llew Executive Boardroom (Building 14)