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Business & Economics Macroeconomics

The Pandemic Information Gap

The Brutal Economics of COVID-19

by (author) Joshua Gans

MIT Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2020
Macroeconomics, Economic Policy, Health Policy
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
    List Price

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Why solving the information problem should be at the core of our pandemic response: essential reading about the long-term implications of our current crisis.

COVID-19 is caused by a virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a lack of good information. A pandemic is essentially an information problem: this is the enlightening and provocative idea at the heart of this book. If we solve the information problem, argues economist Joshua Gans, we can defeat the virus. For example, when we don't know who is infected, we have to act as if everyone is infected. If we actively manage the information problem--if we know who is infected and with whom they had contact--we can suppress the virus or buy time for vaccine development.

This is an expanded version of an eBook originally published as Economics in the Age of COVID-19.

About the author

Joshua Gans is Professor of Strategic Management and holder of the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. He is the author of Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting (MIT Press), Information Wants to Be Shared, and other books.

Joshua Gans' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Gans believes the focus of the pandemic should be about understanding the information problem, and knowing critical facts at every phase of pandemic recovery to suppress future outbreaks."
—Business Insider
Praise for Economics in the Age of COVID-19
"It’s a shame that policymakers did not have books such as Joshua Gans’s Economics in the Age of COVID-19 to lay out the issues for them in January."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a number of areas where government was unprepared despite years of preparation, but it has also revealed a very un-governmental nimbleness in responding to the economics of the pandemic-induced recession. Economist Joshua Gans says there was no pandemics playbook on how to keep an economy running in a situation like this, and despite the real hardships many are facing today, policymakers have made more right decisions than wrong to this point."
—Public Radio Tulsa
"Written in an unpretentious conversational style, Economics in the Age of Covid-19 (Gans) provides an accessible overview of the past, present, and future economic choices confronting nations grappling against the viral pandemic of Covid-19."
—Postdigital Science and Education

Other titles by Joshua Gans