We build an evolutionary game-theoretic model of the interaction between policymakers and experts in shaping the policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players’ decisions concern two alternative strategies of pandemic management: a “hard” approach, enforcing potentially unpopular measures such as strict confinement orders, and a “soft” approach, based upon voluntary and short-lived social distancing. Policymakers’ decisions may also rely upon expert advice. Unlike experts, policymakers are sensitive to a public consensus incentive that makes lifting restrictions as soon as possible especially desirable. This incentive may conflict with the overall goal of mitigating the effects of the pandemic, leading to a typical policy dilemma. We show that the selection of strategies may be path-dependent, as their initial distribution is a crucial driver of players’ choices. Contingent on cultural factors and the epidemiological conditions, steady states in which both types of players unanimously endorse the strict strategy can coexist with others where experts and policymakers agree on the soft strategy, depending on the initial conditions. The model can also lead to attractive asymmetric equilibria where experts and policymakers endorse different strategies, or to cyclical dynamics where the shares of adoption of strategies oscillate indefinitely around a mixed strategy equilibrium. This multiplicity of equilibria can explain the coexistence of contrasting pandemic countermeasures observed across countries in the first wave of the outbreak. Our results suggest that cross-country differences in the COVID-19 policy response need not be the effect of poor decision making. Instead, they can endogenously result from the interplay between policymakers and experts incentives under the local social, cultural and epidemiological conditions.

Experts vs. policymakers in the COVID-19 policy response / Antoci, Angelo; Sabatini, Fabio; Luigi Sacco, Pier; Sodini, Mauro. - In: JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR & ORGANIZATION. - ISSN 0167-2681. - 201(2022), pp. 22-39. [10.1016/j.jebo.2022.06.031]

Experts vs. policymakers in the COVID-19 policy response

Fabio Sabatini;
2022

Abstract

We build an evolutionary game-theoretic model of the interaction between policymakers and experts in shaping the policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players’ decisions concern two alternative strategies of pandemic management: a “hard” approach, enforcing potentially unpopular measures such as strict confinement orders, and a “soft” approach, based upon voluntary and short-lived social distancing. Policymakers’ decisions may also rely upon expert advice. Unlike experts, policymakers are sensitive to a public consensus incentive that makes lifting restrictions as soon as possible especially desirable. This incentive may conflict with the overall goal of mitigating the effects of the pandemic, leading to a typical policy dilemma. We show that the selection of strategies may be path-dependent, as their initial distribution is a crucial driver of players’ choices. Contingent on cultural factors and the epidemiological conditions, steady states in which both types of players unanimously endorse the strict strategy can coexist with others where experts and policymakers agree on the soft strategy, depending on the initial conditions. The model can also lead to attractive asymmetric equilibria where experts and policymakers endorse different strategies, or to cyclical dynamics where the shares of adoption of strategies oscillate indefinitely around a mixed strategy equilibrium. This multiplicity of equilibria can explain the coexistence of contrasting pandemic countermeasures observed across countries in the first wave of the outbreak. Our results suggest that cross-country differences in the COVID-19 policy response need not be the effect of poor decision making. Instead, they can endogenously result from the interplay between policymakers and experts incentives under the local social, cultural and epidemiological conditions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1655124
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