Economics - General Vaccinations

Uncertainty and Vaccination Decisions

An interesting result from Courbage and Peter (2021):

…uncertainty about the probability of side effects and the efficacy of the vaccine always reduces take-up under ambiguity aversion. However, uncertainty about the underlying disease, being the probability of sickness or the probability of a severe course of disease, may either encourage or discourage vaccination.

Because vaccination is by definition for people who do not yet have a disease, many of these individuals will be risk averse over uncertainty in vaccine efficacy or safety. People who have a serious disease may be either risk averse or risk loving (see my “value of hope” work). The authors note that when there are increasing marginal returns to health and

Note that the result above is derived entirely from expected utility theory and does not have empirical support. The authors also note that applications using rank-dependent utility model (Quiggin, 1982) or reference-dependent models such as prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979) would be useful extensions.


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