Abstract: The dynamics of economies and infectious disease are inexorably linked: economic well-being influences health (sanitation, nutrition, treatment capacity, etc.) and health influences economic well-being (labor productivity lost to sickness and disease). Often societies are locked into" poverty traps" of poor health and poor economy. Here, using a simplified coupled disease-economic model with endogenous capital growth we demonstrate the formation of poverty traps, as well as ways to escape them. We suggest two possible mechanisms of escape both motivated by empirical data: one, through an influx of capital (development aid), and another through changing the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare. We find that a large influx of capital is successful in escaping the poverty trap, but increasing health spending alone is not. Our results demonstrate that escape from a poverty trap may be possible, and carry important policy implications in the world-wide distribution of aid and within-country healthcare spending.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).