Mellacher, Patrick, B.A.(Econ.) M.Sc. (Econ.)
I am an economist working at the Graz Schumpeter Centre of the University of Graz who specializes in computer simulations and agent-based models.
I am especially interested in studying contemporary phenomena, which is why I started to investigate the Covid-19 crisis following its onset in March 2020. In particular, my research on this topic can be attributed to three areas:
- I developed an agent-based model called COVID-Town, which allows to study economic, public health and - to a limited degree - social consequences of the virus under varying containment policies. This model is populated by agents who differ with regard to their economic and epidemiological characteristics, governed by social class, employment, family status, leisure preferences and connections in a social network. The model is calibrated with a wide array of statistical data from Germany including data on time use, demography, firm demography, employment and wage statistics, household composition etc. The model allows to study the impact of explicit containment policies such as school closures and considers some of their associated trade-offs. For instance, school closures on the one hand play a major role in curbing the spread of the virus, but on the other hand also decrease labour supply, as parents have to stand in as care givers for young children. I also applied this model to study a counterfactual UK policy timeline in a separate paper published in Investigación Económica.
- I conducted research on the effects of Corona populism and corona skepticism by empirically studying the anti-lockdown policy switch by the Austrian right-wing party FPÖ at the end of the first wave of Covid-19. I found that an increase in the FPÖ vote share predicts an increase of Covid-19 deaths only after the switch, but that there is no significant effect on the reported number of infections. I hypothesized that this is due to a self-selection bias in Covid-19 testing, and find support for this hypothesis using individual-level data from November 2020. This data (from a Covid-19 prevalence study) showed that Austrians who believe that containment policies were too strict were a) significantly more likely to test positive for Covid-19 in both PCR and antibody tests, but b) not significantly more likely to be a reported case. I complemented this empirical research by developing a heterogeneous mixing SIR model featuring behavioral differences between "corona skeptics" and the majority, which again supports the hypothesis and allows for more general conclusions. An earlier version of this paper was featured in the preprint collection Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers edited by Charles Wyplosz for the CEPR. You can find the current version of the paper here.
- Finally, I developed a parsimonious evolutionary-epidemiological model to capture the endogenous creation and competition of new Covid-19 variants under varying (simplified) containment policies. Viral evolution in this model captures both immunity escape via antigenic drift and changes in the characteristics of the model due to mutations. You can find the current version here.
Apart from Covid-19, my research focusses on modelling innovation, inequality and polarization. A first paper on this topic, joint with Timon Scheuer, was published in Computational Economics. In a recent working paper called "Growth, Concentration and Inequality in a Unified Schumpeter Mark I + II model", I develop a rather simple agent-based model that unifies salient features of the so-called Schumpeter Mark I and Mark II model and show that it is capable of reproducing prominent stylized facts of economic development since the 1980s, such as the increase in market concentration and inequality and "declining business dynamism".
I am also interested in the history of economic thought and do not shy away from using "old" ideas with "new" methods. I am Co-Translator of Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (first complete German edition) and work as Editorial Assistant of the European Journal of the History of Economic Thought. I have acted as a peer reviewer for Computational Economics, Journal of Evolutionary Economics and Metroeconomica. I am teaching public finance and agent-based modelling, and have teaching experience in the history of economic thought. I am active on Twitter as @Patrick_M_Econ.
I am proud to have received the EAEPE Herbert Simon Prize 2021 for my paper Covid-Town: An Integrated Economic Epidemiological Agent-based Model from the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy.