Discussion paper

DP17952 Pandemics, Public Policy, and Peltzman Effects

The study of infection dynamics routinely relies on versions of the compartmental SIR model. We extend the basic SIR model to explore the trade-offs which govern individual behavior. We limit our analysis to a highly stylized version of the model and analyze peoples’ response to specific public policies in closed form. For both, vaccination and lockdown policies we establish Peltzman effects: As policies lower the risk of infections, people become more socially active, in turn, undermining their effectiveness. Data for US states and countries in Western Europe suggest that such effects are shaping actual infection dynamics to a considerable extent.


Dietrich, A, W Kohler and G Müller (eds) (2023), “DP17952 Pandemics, Public Policy, and Peltzman Effects”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 17952. https://cepr.org/publications/dp17952