The 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Epidemic: A Retroactive Examination of Economic Costs

Publication | October 2019

This paper examines the economic costs of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and identifies measures to reduce the impact of future epidemics.

Although the SARS epidemic was rapidly contained, it generated considerable panic and a short period of economic turmoil across some Asian countries. The tourism, transportation, hospitality, and retail sectors were hardest hit, with some estimates putting losses at over $10 billion. This paper examines the economic impacts of the epidemic and explains how they were influenced by public policy, information and media coverage, and the behavioral responses of individuals. It also provides general policy recommendations that could help lessen the harm of future epidemics on both public health and the economy.


  • Introduction to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • Zoonotic Diseases
  • Economic Impacts of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • A Closer Examination of Economic Impacts of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome: The People's Republic of China and Hong Kong, China
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Public Policy
  • General Recommendations about Policy
  • Two Recommendations about Future Research

Additional Details

  • Economics
  • Health
  • Communicable and vector-borne diseases
  • Emerging diseases
  • Health sector development and reform
  • Industry and trade
  • China, People's Republic of
  • Hong Kong, China
  • 20
  • 8.5 x 11
  • WPS190469-2
  • 2313-6537 (print)
  • 2313-6545 (electronic)

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