January 2017 Volume 37, Issue 1 Pages 1–192
Original Research Articles
Total Economic Consequences of an Influenza Outbreak in the United States (pages 4–19)
Fynnwin Prager, Dan Wei and Adam Rose
Version of Record online: 23 MAY 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/risa.12625
Pandemic influenza represents a serious threat not only to the population of the United States, but also to its economy. In this study, we analyze the total economic consequences of potential influenza outbreaks in the United States for four cases based on the distinctions between disease severity and the presence/absence of vaccinations. The analysis is based on data and parameters on influenza obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and the general literature. A state-of-the-art economic impact modeling approach, computable general equilibrium, is applied to analyze a wide range of potential impacts stemming from the outbreaks. This study examines the economic impacts from changes in medical expenditures and workforce participation, and also takes into consideration different types of avoidance behavior and resilience actions not previously fully studied. Our results indicate that, in the absence of avoidance and resilience effects, a pandemic influenza outbreak could result in a loss in U.S. GDP of $25.4 billion, but that vaccination could reduce the losses to $19.9 billion. When behavioral and resilience factors are taken into account, a pandemic influenza outbreak could result in GDP losses of $45.3 billion without vaccination and $34.4 billion with vaccination. These results indicate the importance of including a broader set of causal factors to achieve more accurate estimates of the total economic impacts of not just pandemic influenza but biothreats in general. The results also highlight a number of actionable items that government policymakers and public health officials can use to help reduce potential economic losses from the outbreaks.