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Mass gathering events and the spread of infectious diseases: Evidence from the early growth phase of COVID-19

Rafael González-Val () and Miriam Marcén

Economics & Human Biology, 2022, vol. 46, issue C

Abstract: This paper studies the impact on reported coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) cases and deaths in Spain resulting from large mass gatherings that occurred from March 6 to March 8, 2020. To study these outcomes, the geographic differences in the planned pre-pandemic major events that took place on these dates were exploited, which is a quasi-random source of variation for identification purposes. We collected daily and detailed information about the number of attendees at football (soccer) and basketball matches in addition to individuals participating in the Women’s Day marches across Spain, which we merged with daily data on reported COVID-19 cases and deaths at the provincial level. Our results reveal evidence of non-negligible COVID-19 cases related to the differences in the percentage of attendees at these major events from March 6 to March 8. In a typical province, approximately 31% of the average daily reported COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants between mid-March and early April 2020 can be explained by the participation rate in those major events. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that this implies almost five million euros (169,000 euros/day) of additional economic cost in the health system of a typical province with one million inhabitants in the period under consideration. Several mechanisms behind the spread of COVID-19 are also examined.

Keywords: COVID-19; Mass gathering events; Cases; Deaths; Spain (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I18 J10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2022.101140

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