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Protecting Lives and Livelihoods with Early and Tight Lockdowns

Francesca Caselli, Francesco Grigoli () and Sandri Damiano ()
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Sandri Damiano: IMF, Washington, USA

The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, 2022, vol. 22, issue 1, 241-268

Abstract: Using high-frequency proxies for economic activity over a large sample of countries, we show that the economic crisis during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic was only partly due to government lockdowns. Economic activity also contracted severely because of voluntary social distancing in response to higher infections. Furthermore, we show that lockdowns substantially reduced COVID-19 cases, especially if they were introduced early in a country’s epidemic. This implies that, despite involving short-term economic costs, lockdowns may pave the way to a faster recovery by containing the spread of the virus and reducing voluntary social distancing. Finally, we document that lockdowns entail decreasing marginal economic costs but increasing marginal benefits in reducing infections. This suggests that tight short-lived lockdowns are preferable to mild prolonged measures.

Keywords: COVID-19; infections; lockdown; mobility; voluntary social distancing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E1 H0 I1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1515/bejm-2020-0266

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