NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Trading Off Consumption and COVID-19 Deaths

Robert E. Hall, Charles I. Jones, Peter J. Klenow

NBER Working Paper No. 27340
Issued in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Health Care, Health Economics

This note develops a framework for thinking about the following question: What is the maximum amount of consumption that a utilitarian welfare function would be willing to trade off to avoid the deaths associated with the pandemic? The answer depends crucially on the mortality rate associated with the coronavirus. If the mortality rate averages 0.81%, taken from the Imperial College London study, our answer is 41% of one year's consumption. If the mortality rate instead averages 0.44% across age groups, our answer is 28%.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27340

Published: Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones & Peter J. Kleneow, 2020. "Trading Off Consumption and COVID-19 Deaths," Quarterly Review, vol 42(1).

 
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