Skip to main content

The Smallpox Eradication Game

Abstract

Why did the world succeed in eradicating smallpox? Though eradication is a global public good, theory suggests that it should not have been vulnerable to free riding. Some countries, however, lacked the capacity to eliminate smallpox. Success thus depended on the other countries providing assistance. Theory suggests that this public good also should not have been vulnerable to free riding. However, financing proved challenging, even though the global benefit-cost ratio for eradication exceeded 400:1. Contrary to what theory suggests, what may have been the greatest achievement of international cooperation ever was not inevitable. Indeed, it very nearly failed.

References

  1. Admati, A.R., & Perry, M. (1991). Joint projects without commitment. Review of Economic Studies, 58, 259–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, R.M., & May, R.M. (1991). Infectious diseases of humans: dynamics and control. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Andreoni, J. (1998). Toward a theory of charitable fund-raising. Journal of Political Economy, 106(6), 1186–1213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aylward, R.B., Acharya, A., England, S., Agocs, M., & Linkins, J. (2003a). Polio eradication. In: Smith, R.R., Beaglehole, Woodward, D., & Drager, N. (Eds.), Global public goods for health: health economic and public health perspectives, (pp. 33–53). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Aylward, R.B., Acharya, A., England, S., Agocs, M., & Linkins, J. (2003b). Global health goals: lessons from the worldwide effort to eradicate poliomyelitis. The Lancet, 362, 909–914.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Barrett, S. (2001). International cooperation for sale. European Economic Review, 45, 1835–1850.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barrett, S. (2003a). Environment and statecraft: the strategy of environmental treaty-making. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Barrett, S. (2003b). Global disease eradication. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1, 591–600.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Barrett, S. (2004). Eradication vs. control: the economics of global infectious disease policy. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 82, 683–688.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Barrett, S., & Hoel, M. (2003). Optimal disease eradication. Unpublished manuscript.

  11. Basu, R.N., Jezek, Z., & Ward, N.A. (1979). The eradication of smallpox from India. New Delhi: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Brilliant, L.B. (1985). The management of smallpox eradication in India. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cadsby, C. B., & Maynes, E. (1998). Corporate takeovers in the laboratory when shareholders own more than one share. Journal of Business, 71(4), 537–572.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cadsby, C.B., & Maynes, E. (1999). Voluntary provision of threshold public goods with continuous contributions: experimental evidence. Journal of Public Economics, 71, 53–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cadsby, C.B., Hamaguchi, Y., Kawagoe, T., Maynes, E., & Song, F. (2003). Cross-national gender differences in behavior in a threshold public goods game: Japan versus Canada. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Economics, University of Guelph.

  16. Compte, O., & Jehiel, P. (2003). Voluntary contributions to a joint project with asymmetric agents. Journal of Economic Theory, 112(2), 334–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cooper, R.N. (1989). International cooperation in public health as a prologue to macroeconomic cooperation. In: Cooper, R.N. Eichengreen, B., Henning, C.R., Holtham, G., & Putnam, R.D. Can nations agree? Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

  18. Crosby, A.W. (1986). Ecological imperialism: the biological expansion of Europe, 900–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. DeSombre, E.R. (2000). Domestic sources of international environmental policy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2000). Cooperation and punishment in public goods experiments. American Economic Review, 90(4), 980–994.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Fenner, F. (1993). Human monkeypox, a newly discovered human virus disease. In: Morse, S.S. (Ed.), Emerging viruses, pp. 176–183 New York: Oxford University Press.

  22. Fenner, F., Henderson, D.A., Arita, I., Jezek, Z., & Ladnyi, I.D. (1988). Smallpox and its eradication. Geneva: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Gani, R., & Leach, S. (2001). Transmission potential of smallpox in contemporary populations. Nature 414, 748–751.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Geoffard, P.-Y., & Philipson, T. (1997). Disease eradication: private versus public vaccination. American Economic Review, 87(1), 222–230.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Glynn, I., & Glynn, J. (2004). The life and death of smallpox. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Henderson, D.A. (1999). Eradication: lessons from the past. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 48, 16–22.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hinman, A. (1999). Eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases. Annual Review of Public Health, 20, 211–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hirshleifer, J. (1983). From weakest-link to best-shot: the voluntary provision of public goods. Public Choice, 41, 371–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hopkins, D.R. (1983). Princes and peasants: smallpox in history. Chicago: University of Chicago.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hopkins, D.R. & Millar, J.D. (1996). Editorial note. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 45, 538–45.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Hopkins, D.R., Ruiz-Tiben, E., Diallo, N., Withers, Jr., P.C., & Maguire, J.H. (2002). Dracunculiasis eradication: and now, Sudan. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 67(4), 415–22.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Isaac, R.M., Schmidtz, D., & Walker, J.M. (1989). The assurance problem in a laboratory market. Public Choice, 62, 217–236.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. List, J.A., & Lucking-Reiley, D. (2002). The effects of seed money and refunds on charitable giving: experimental evidence from a university capital campaign. Journal of Political Economy, 110(1), 215–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Loevinsohn, B., Aylward, B., Steinglass, R., Ogden, E., Goodman, T., & Melgaard, B. (2002). Impact of targeted programs on health systems: a case study of the polio eradication initiative. American Journal of Public Health, 92(1), 19–23.

    Google Scholar 

  35. McNeill, W.H. (1977). Plagues and peoples. New York: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Miller, M., Barrett, S., & Henderson, D.A. (2006). Control and eradication. In: Jamison, D.T., Alleyne, G., Breman, J., Claeson, M., Evans, D.B., Jha, P., Measham, A.R., Mills, A., & Musgrove, P.R. (Eds.), Disease control priorities in developing countries. 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1163–1176.

  37. Olmstead, A.L., & Rhode, P.W. (2004). An impossible undertaking: the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in the United States. Journal of Economic History, 64(3), 1–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Olson, M., & Zeckhauser, R. (1966). An economic theory of alliances. Review of Economics and Statistics, 48, 266–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Putnam, R. (1988). Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games. International Organization, 42, 427–460.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Ramaiah, T.J. (1976). Cost-benefit analysis of the intensified campaign against smallpox in India. National Institute of Health Administration and Education Bulletin, 9(3), 169–203.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Sandler, T. (1992). Collective action: theory and applications. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Sandler, T. (2005). Collective versus unilateral responses to terrorism. Public Choice, 124, 75–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Sangrujee, N., Caceres, V.M., & Cochi, S.L. (2004). Cost analysis of post-polio certification immunization policies. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 82(1), 9–15.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Schelling, T.C. (1960). The strategy of conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Sencer, D.J., & Axnick, N.W. (1973). Cost benefit analysis. International symposium on vaccination against communicable diseases, Monaco 1973; Symposia series in immunobiological standardization, 22, 37–46.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Shimizu, H., & Sandler, T. (2002). Peacekeeping and burden-sharing, 1994–2000. Journal of Peace Research, 39(6), 651–668.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Suleiman, R., & Rapoport, A. (1992). Provision of step-level public goods with continuous contribution. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 5, 133–153.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Sutter, R.W., Cáceres, V.M., & Lago, P.M. (2004). The role of routine polio immunization in the post-certification era. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 82(1), 31–39.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Taylor, C.E., Cutts, F., & Taylor, M.E. (1997). Ethical dilemmas in current planning for polio eradication. American Journal of Public Health, 87(6), 922–916.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Vesterlund, L. (2003). The informational value of sequential fundraising. Journal of Public Economics, 87(3–4), 627–657.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. World Health Assembly (1966). Eighth meeting of the nineteenth World Health Assembly, 12 May 1966, Official Records of the World Health Organization, 152, 288.

  53. World Health Organization (2001). Global polio eradication initiative: estimated external financial resource requirements for 2002–2005 as of 1 September 2001. Geneva: WHO.

    Google Scholar 

  54. World Health Organization (2003a). Global polio eradication initiative: estimated external financial resource requirements for 2004–2008 as of December 2003. Geneva: WHO.

    Google Scholar 

  55. World Health Organization (2003b). Global polio eradication initiative strategic plan 2004–2008. Geneva: WHO.

    Google Scholar 

  56. World Health Organization (2003c). World Health Report 2003: Shaping the future. Geneva: WHO.

  57. World Health Organization (2005). Global polio eradication initiative: 2004 annual report. Geneva: WHO.

  58. Yekutiel, P. (1980). Eradication of infectious diseases: a critical study. Basel: S. Karger.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Scott Barrett.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Barrett, S. The Smallpox Eradication Game. Public Choice 130, 179–207 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-006-9079-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Smallpox
  • Disease eradication
  • Global public good
  • International financing
  • International cooperation