Preparing for future pandemics: A multi-national comparison of health and economic trade-offs

Emily Lancsar, Elisabeth Huynh, Joffre Swait, Robert Breunig, Craig Mitton, Martyn Kirk, Cam Donaldson

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    Government investment in preparing for pandemics has never been more relevant. The COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated debate regarding the trade-offs societies are prepared to make between health and economic activity. What is not known is: (1) how much the public in different countries are prepared to pay in forgone GDP to avoid mortality from future pandemics; and (2) which health and economic policies the public in different countries want their government to invest in to prepare for and respond to the next pandemic. Using a future-focused, multi-national discrete choice experiment, we quantify these trade-offs and find that the tax-paying public is prepared to pay $3.92 million USD (Canada), $4.39 million USD (UK), $5.57 million USD (US) and $7.19 million USD (Australia) in forgone GDP per death avoided in the next pandemic. We find the health policies that taxpayers want to invest in before the next pandemic and the economic policies they want activated once the next pandemic hits are relatively consistent across the countries, with some exceptions. Such results can inform economic policy responses and government investment in health policies to reduce the adverse impacts of the next pandemic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1434-1452
    JournalHealth Economics
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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