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The Economics of Pandemics

A short course on the Economics of Pandemics with Abhinay Muthoo, Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick

"The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology" Edward O. Wilson (2009)
In these strange and unprecedented times of the Coronavirus pandemic and with lots of universities closed or offering online provision, we will be offering a free short course designed for students over 18 and professionals who wish to enhance their learning and experience a new topic on the world’s most relevant issue today. The course is open to anyone across the globe and will be of interest to students pursuing graduation or post-graduation in any discipline, faculty members and research scholars, and young working professionals.

Key details

Wednesdays at 10am - 12:00noon BST for four weeks*

Each session will include a 1 hour lecture followed by a 10 minute break and then a Q&A session of 50 minutes.

Lecture topics

Wednesday 8th July 2020 – Topic 1: The Problem, The Science, and The Main Issues

Wednesday 15th July 2020 - Topic 2: Insights from Behavioural Science and Nudge Theory

Wednesday 22nd July 2020 - Topic 3: Encouraging Cooperation and Solving Coordination Problems

Wednesday 29th July 2020 - Topic 4: Lockdowns and Livelihoods

How do I sign up?

Please register on this webpage. Once you have signed up, you will receive email confirmation of your place on the course and some online resources.

We will send you an email each week with the relevant YouTube links for both the lecture and the Q&A. You will be asked to email your questions to us either before or during the lecture. Professor Muthoo will aim cover as many these raised through the questions as possible during the Q&A.

There is no mandatory pre-reading requirement for the course but we will encourage you to browse through some of the resources we send, and perhaps read a few of the short, non-technical articles to get a flavour of some of the issues before the course.

All of the readings will be helpful after the course to help develop a deeper understanding of the topics.

* For registered participants who are unable to make the live YouTube lecture and Q&A sessions due to different time zones, the recordings will be made available for 48 hrs after each session ends for you to watch at your own convenience through our website. For information on how to access this, please refer to emails sent out to all registrants before the upcoming session.

If you have any queries please email:

Introduction to the course

Evidence suggests that the likelihood of pandemics has significantly increased over the past decade due to several economic and environmental factors such as increased mobility of people, global integrated supply chains and greater exploitation of nature. As we currently live through an ongoing pandemic in the form of COVID-19, we are faced with several pressing questions -

  • Just how effective are the current policy actions and what are their long term implications?
  • What is the trade-off between lockdowns and livelihoods?
  • How can we incentivise people to change their behaviour for their own/society’s safety?

This course takes a look at several of these aspects. Key topics that will be covered include:

  • Behavioural Economics and Behavioural Science. Various (cognitive) biases. Nudge theory. Policy implications.
  • Strategic Decision-Making and Coordination Problems. Social distancing measures and lockdowns. The Public Health approach: Coordination amongst different agencies within a country, and that amongst countries.
  • Economic and Social Cost Benefit Analysis. The trade-offs between lockdowns (to help save lives from Covid-19) and livelihoods, income and the economy.