This paper characterizes a pandemic as one kind of contagion, and defines a contagion as a two-level, two-direction, reflexive feedback loop system. In such a system, experts’ opinions can act as self-fulfilling prophecies that significantly influence social behavior. Also, when multiple experts produce multiple, expert opinions can fragment a society’s response to a pandemic worsening rather than ameliorating it. This paper models this with two competing expert opinions, associates them with club goods and common pool goods types of circumstances, and argues that to combat fragmentation of opinion a focus on public health public good provision needs to be framed in public choice terms, specifically as choices regarding the nature of democratic deliberative institutions. From a constitutional political economy perspective, it argues this entails asking how public reasoning processes can function in an ‘inclusive and noncoercive’ way that allows society to reconcile competing visions regarding such issues as how to combat a pandemic.
Davis, John B., "(WP 2022-03) Managing Contagion: COVID, Public Health, and Reflexive Behavior" (2022). Economics Working Papers. 84.