Impact of socioeconomic determinants on the speed of epidemic diseases: a comparative analysis

public health
Oxford Economic Papers

Ewen Gallic


February 21, 2024

Our new article, co-authored with Gilles Dufrénot, Pierre Michel, and three interns, Norgile Midopkè Bonou, Ségui Gnaba and Iness Slaoui who provided a very good assistance at the beginning of the project, is now available in Oxford Economic Papers.

Why has an epidemic like Covid-19 spread rapidly in some countries, while others have been less affected than others? Can we really stop an epidemic that has started to spread? Were containment strategies really effective? Is it true that people with diabetes or high cholesterol are more likely to die from zoonotic diseases? And why is the African continent a special case when it comes to understanding the spread of epidemic diseases?


We study the impact of socioeconomic factors on two key parameters of epidemic dynamics. Specifically, we investigate a parameter capturing the rate of deceleration at the very start of an epidemic, and a parameter that reflects the pre-peak and post-peak dynamics at the turning point of an epidemic like COVID-19. We find two important results. The policies to fight COVID-19 (such as social distancing and containment) have been effective in reducing the overall number of new infections, because they influence not only the epidemic peaks, but also the speed of spread of the disease in its early stages. The second important result of our research concerns the role of healthcare infrastructure. They are just as effective as anti-COVID policies, not only in preventing an epidemic from spreading too quickly at the outset, but also in creating the desired dynamic around peaks: slow spreading, then rapid disappearance.

A replication ebook is available on my website:

Geographical distribution of estimated values for the parameter associated with the deceleration of spread growth (\(\hat{P}\)) by countries.