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COVID Social Distancing and the Poor: An Analysis of the Evidence for England

Parantap Basu, Clive Bell and Edwards Terence Huw
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Edwards Terence Huw: School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, 2022, vol. 22, issue 1, 211-240

Abstract: Social distancing is a matter of individuals’ choices as well as of regulation. We analyse weekly panel data on such behaviour for English Upper Tier Local Authorities (UTLAs) from March to July 2020, paying attention to the influence of poverty, as measured by free school meals provision. Panel regressions suggest that, although more stringent regulation and slightly lagged local cases of infection increase social distancing, both effects are weaker in UTLAs with higher levels of poverty, in part because of poor housing, and also because shortage of money has forced the poor to keep working. Thus motivated, we develop a two-class (rich/poor) model, in which a Nash non-cooperative equilibrium arises from individual choices in a regulatory regime with penalties for non-compliance. The model yields results in keeping with the empirical findings, indicating the desirability of generous measures to furlough workers in low-paid jobs as a complement to the stringency of general regulation.

Keywords: COVID19; policy stringency; poverty; social distancing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 H00 I00 I12 I14 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1515/bejm-2020-0250

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