Discussion paper

DP16429 Epidemics With Behavior

We study social distancing in an epidemiological model. Distancing reduces the individual’s probability of getting infected but comes at a cost. Equilibrium distancing flattens the curve and decreases the final size of the epidemic. We examine the effects of distancing on the outset, the peak, and the final size of the epidemic. Our results suggest that public policies that decrease the transmission rate can lead to unintended negative consequences in the short run but not in the long run. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the interventions that affect the transmission rate and the interventions that affect contact rates.


Kos, N, S Fukuda and C Carnehl (2021), ‘DP16429 Epidemics With Behavior‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16429. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16429