How can we make society more resilient to epidemic outbreaks and protect the marginalized from harm? 

In bookstores now!

The Rich Flee and the Poor Take the Bus

By Troy Tassier

When an epidemic outbreak occurs, the most physical and financial harm historically falls upon the people who can least afford it: the economically and socially marginalized. Where people live and work, how they commute and socialize, and more have a huge impact on the risks we bear during an outbreak. In The Rich Flee and the Poor Take the Bus, economist Troy Tassier examines examples ranging from the 430 BCE plague of Athens to the COVID-19 pandemic to demonstrate why marginalized groups bear the largest burden of epidemic costs―and how to avoid these systemic failures in the future.

Advanced Praise

One of “20 non-fiction and popular science books to look forward to in 2024.” New Scientist


Troy Tassier’s book offers up an inconvenient truth: the burden of COVID pandemic, like all others before it, fell most heavily on the poor and marginalized. This disproportionate impact is not an accident―it is the result of deliberate choices that are promoted by those who are well-off in our societies; it is death by public policy.

Gregg Gonsalves, Yale School of Public Health


The Rich Flee and the Poor Take the Bus sheds new light on age-old inequalities in health. Troy Tassier offers us both an indictment of the societal conditions that fueled sharply uneven losses during the COVID-19 pandemic and an invitation to reimagine a new normal in its aftermath. 

Anne Sosin, Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, Dartmouth College


From cholera to COVID, pandemics have disproportionately affected the poor. In a book that is spectacular in its breadth, clarity, and humaneness, Tassier brilliantly interweaves a history of pandemics with a scientific account of how disease spreads to demonstrate the structural causes of epidemic disparities.

Scott E. Page, University of Michigan


Troy Tassier has produced an engaging tour of the concepts, facts, and historical cases that social scientists use to understand pandemics―and why their consequences are usually so unequally felt.

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Troy Tassier

Professor of Economics at Fordham University in New York City and the author of the Substack newsletter, At the Margin.  

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Photo credits: Beth Boyland Photography.