Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Plagues and Panics: Social organization, information systems, and disease outbreaks


Sumit Guha (University of Texas, Austin)

On Thursday, 13 August 2020 at 5:30 P.M.



Outbreaks of epidemic disease and market systems both work their effects within information networks. Of course, the actual production, allocation, and consumption of goods and services occur whether markets exist or not; similarly, diseases kill humans whether they are recognized as such or not. But the diffusion of information through a network changes human behavior within it.
My talk will present the historical creation of information networks as well as their feedback effects upon the conduct of agents in the system via the historical trajectory of an old but deadly disease, the bubonic plague, Yersinia Pestis. It will consider how social and political systems constrain information and behavior. Finally, I will conclude with a comparison of two panics, one that occurred and one that did not. These illustrate the power of reputational effects on human behavior which in turn has major repercussions on the economy.


All are cordially invited. 

back to seminars…