UCL Department of Economics


CReAM Brown Bag Seminar (Online) presented by Jerome Adda (Bocconi University)

25 March 2020, 12:30 pm–1:30 pm

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Economic Activity and the Spread of Viral Diseases: Evidence from High Frequency Data

Event Information

Open to



Maria Lambrianidou

Abstract: Viruses are a major threat to human health, and—given that they spread through social interactions—represent a costly externality. This article addresses three main questions: (i) what are the unintended consequences of economic activity on the spread of infections; (ii) how efficient are measures that limit interpersonal contacts; (iii) how do we allocate our scarce resources to limit the spread of infections? To answer these questions, we use novel high frequency data from France on the incidence of a number of viral diseases across space, for different age groups, over a quarter of a century. We use quasi-experimental variation to evaluate the importance of policies reducing interpersonal contacts such as school closures or the closure of public transportation networks. While these policies significantly reduce disease prevalence, we find that they are not cost-effective. We find that expansions of transportation networks have significant health costs in increasing the spread of viruses, and that propagation rates are pro-cyclically sensitive to economic conditions and increase with inter-regional trade

Paper available here.

Attendance will be through Zoom.


1. Sign up for an account on the Zoom website and follow instructions to download Zoom. Please do this before the meeting so you don’t miss the start.

2. Attendees will need to click on this link on Wednesday 25th March at 12.30pm. Please make sure you are prompt. Everyone will be muted and without video upon entry but will have access to the chat as well as the ‘raise hand’ function for questions.

3. During the meeting please do not unmute and do not activate your cameras unprompted as this can be quite disruptive. Jerome will be presenting and people can ask their questions through chat. Jerome will check the questions and ‘raise hands’ frequently and interrupt the seminar to address them. We will repeat the instructions at the beginning of the seminar.

The seminar will be recorded and uploaded on the CReAM website.

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