Forming COVID-19 Policy under Uncertainty

Charles F. Manski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This paper presents my thinking and concerns about formation of COVID-19 policy. Policy formation must cope with substantial uncertainties about the nature of the disease, the dynamics of transmission, and behavioral responses. Data uncertainties limit our knowledge of the past trajectory and current state of the pandemic. Data and modeling uncertainties limit our ability to predict the impacts of alternative policies. I explain why current epidemiological and macroeconomic modeling cannot deliver realistically optimal policy. I describe my recent work quantifying basic data uncertainties that make policy analysis difficult. I discuss approaches for policy choice under uncertainty and suggest adaptive policy diversification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-356
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Benefit-Cost Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • COVID-19 data uncertainties
  • adaptive policy diversification
  • coronavirus pandemic
  • integrated policy assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Administration


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