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Escaping infectious diseases through migration? Quarantine measures under incomplete information about infection risk

Mesnard, A. and Seabright, P. (2009). Escaping infectious diseases through migration? Quarantine measures under incomplete information about infection risk. Journal of Public Economics, 93(7/8), pp. 931-938. doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2009.05.001

Abstract

This paper explores the implications for public policy of the fact that individuals have incomplete but private information about their exposure to infectious disease when they make migration decisions. In a 2-period model we study conditions under which the presence of quarantine measures may lead to inefficient outcomes by strengthening individuals' interest in migration to escape centres of disease and thereby imposing negative externalities on other uninfected individuals. We show first that when the disease has an epicentre, the marginal migrant imposes a net negative externality. Secondly, quarantine policies may sometimes encourage migration instead of discouraging it. Thirdly, even when they succeed in discouraging migration, quarantine policies may lower social welfare, and even increase overall disease incidence, if they go too far, thereby discouraging those intra-marginal migrants for whom private benefits exceed private costs by more than the negative externality they impose on others.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Public Economics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Public Economics, Volume 93, Issues 7–8, August 2009, Pages 931–938, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2009.05.001
Publisher Keywords: Migration; Infectious diseases; Public health; Quarantine
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Economics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/5382
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