Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 163–190 | Cite as

Provisioning of Public Health Can Be Designed to Anticipate Public Policy Responses

  • Jing Li
  • Darla V. Lindberg
  • Rachel A. Smith
  • Timothy C. Reluga
Original Article


Public health policies can elicit strong responses from individuals. These responses can promote, reduce, and even reverse the expected benefits of the policies. Therefore, projections of individual responses to policy can be important ingredients in policy design. Yet our foresight of individual responses to public health investment remains limited. This paper formulates a population game describing the prevention of infectious disease transmission when community health depends on the interactions of individual and public investments. We compare three common relationships between public and individual investments and explain how each relationship alters policy responses and health outcomes. Our methods illustrate how identifying system interactions between nature and society can help us anticipate policy responses.


Epidemiological games Infectious disease Community health Policy resistance Policy reinforcement Health commons 



We would like to thank F. Débarre for her helpful comments. This research was supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant 49276 (TCR) and NIH Grant PAR-08-224 (JL, DL, RS, TCR). We dedicate this paper in memory of Elinor Ostrom. Portions of this research were first publicly presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology in Krakow, Poland.


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Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Li
    • 1
  • Darla V. Lindberg
    • 2
  • Rachel A. Smith
    • 3
  • Timothy C. Reluga
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsCalifornia State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Architecture, Center for Infectious Disease DynamicsPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Communication Arts and SciencesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Mathematics and BiologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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