Epidemic disease and the state: Is there a tradeoff between public health and liberty?

Originally published in Public Choice

This paper examines the political economy of epidemic disease. First, it outlines the incentive and information problems facing policymakers in responding to a new epidemic. Second, it considers the existence of a tradeoff between public health and freedom. Informed by a survey of the history of public health and an analysis of the response to Covid-19, it presents evidence that such a tradeoff can obtain in the short run but that, in the long run, the negative relationship is reversed and the trade-off disappears.

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