Public health and expert failure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In a modern democracy, a public health system includes mechanisms for the provision of expert scientific advice to elected officials. The decisions of elected officials generally will be degraded by expert failure, that is, the provision of bad advice. The theory of expert failure suggests that competition among experts generally is the best safeguard against expert failure. Monopoly power of experts increases the chance of expert failure. The risk of expert failure also is greater when scientific advice is provided by only one or a few disciplines. A national government can simulate a competitive market for expert advice by structuring the scientific advice it receives to ensure the production of multiple perspectives from multiple disciplines. I apply these general principles to the United Kingdom’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-124
Number of pages24
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Covid
  • Experts
  • Pandemic
  • Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies
  • Scientific advice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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