IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Optimal lockdowns for COVID‐19 pandemics: Analyzing the efficiency of sanitary policies in Europe


  • Ewen Gallic
  • Michel Lubrano
  • Pierre Michel


Two main nonpharmaceutical policy strategies have been used in Europe in response to the COVID‐19 epidemic: one aimed at natural herd immunity and the other at avoiding saturation of hospital capacity by crushing the curve. The two strategies lead to different results in terms of the number of lives saved on the one hand and production loss on the other hand. Using a susceptible–infected–recovered–dead model, we investigate and compare these two strategies. As the results are sensitive to the initial reproduction number, we estimate the latter for 10 European countries for each wave from January 2020 till March 2021 using a double sigmoid statistical model and the Oxford COVID‐19 Government Response Tracker data set. Our results show that Denmark, which opted for crushing the curve, managed to minimize both economic and human losses. Natural herd immunity, sought by Sweden and the Netherlands does not appear to have been a particularly effective strategy, especially for Sweden, both in economic terms and in terms of lives saved. The results are more mixed for other countries, but with no evident trade‐off between deaths and production losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Ewen Gallic & Michel Lubrano & Pierre Michel, 2022. "Optimal lockdowns for COVID‐19 pandemics: Analyzing the efficiency of sanitary policies in Europe," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 24(5), pages 944-967, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:24:y:2022:i:5:p:944-967
    DOI: 10.1111/jpet.12556

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raouf Boucekkine & Andrés Carvajal & Shankha Chakraborty & Aditya Goenka, 2021. "The economics of epidemics and contagious diseases: An introduction," Post-Print hal-03164713, HAL.
    2. Chernozhukov, Victor & Kasahara, Hiroyuki & Schrimpf, Paul, 2021. "Causal impact of masks, policies, behavior on early covid-19 pandemic in the U.S," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 220(1), pages 23-62.
    3. Stan Lipovetsky, 2010. "Double logistic curve in regression modeling," Journal of Applied Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(11), pages 1785-1793.
    4. Callum Jones & Thomas Philippon & Venky Venkateswaran, 2021. "Optimal Mitigation Policies in a Pandemic: Social Distancing and Working from Home [A simple planning problem for covid-19 lockdown]," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 34(11), pages 5188-5223.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. John Higgins & Tarun Sabarwal, 2021. "Control and Spread of Contagion in Networks," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 202111, University of Kansas, Department of Economics.
    2. Céline Azémar & Rodolphe Desbordes & Paolo Melindi‐Ghidi & Jean‐Philippe Nicolaï, 2022. "Winners and losers of the COVID‐19 pandemic: An excess profits tax proposal," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 24(5), pages 1016-1038, October.
    3. Cerqueti, Roy & Tramontana, Fabio & Ventura, Marco, 2022. "The complex interplay between COVID-19 and economic activity," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 97-107.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Martin Bodenstein & Giancarlo Corsetti & Luca Guerrieri, 2022. "Social distancing and supply disruptions in a pandemic," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 13(2), pages 681-721, May.
    2. Kisho Hoshi & Hiroyuki Kasahara & Ryo Makioka & Michio Suzuki & Satoshi Tanaka, 2021. "Trade-off between job losses and the spread of COVID-19 in Japan," The Japanese Economic Review, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 683-716, October.
    3. Anand Chopra & Michael B. Devereux & Amartya Lahiri, 2022. "Pandemics through the lens of occupations," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(S1), pages 540-580, February.
    4. Florian Dorn & Sahamoddin Khailaie & Marc Stoeckli & Sebastian C. Binder & Tanmay Mitra & Berit Lange & Stefan Lautenbacher & Andreas Peichl & Patrizio Vanella & Timo Wollmershäuser & Clemens Fuest & , 2023. "The common interests of health protection and the economy: evidence from scenario calculations of COVID-19 containment policies," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 24(1), pages 67-74, February.
    5. Cozzi, Guido & Galli, Silvia, 2022. "Covid-19 Vaccines, Innovation, and Intellectual Property Rights," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1095, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Blas A. Marin-Lopez & David Jimenez-Gomez & José-María Abellán-Perpiñán, 2022. "Behavioral Economics in the Epidemiology of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Theory and Simulations," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(15), pages 1-23, August.
    7. Julliard, Christian & Shi, Ran & Yuan, Kathy, 2023. "The spread of COVID-19 in London: network effects and optimal lockdowns," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 118825, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Léa BOU SLEIMAN & Germain GAUTHIER, 2020. "COVID-19: Reduced forms have gone viral, but what do they tell us?," Working Papers 2020-32, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics, revised 18 Jan 2021.
    9. Carlos B. Carneiro & I'uri H. Ferreira & Marcelo C. Medeiros & Henrique F. Pires & Eduardo Zilberman, 2020. "Lockdown effects in US states: an artificial counterfactual approach," Papers 2009.13484,, revised Feb 2021.
    10. Jacek Rothert, 2020. "Optimal federal redistribution during the uncoordinated response to a pandemic," Departmental Working Papers 64, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    11. Kent A. Smetters, 2020. "Stay-at-home orders and second waves: a graphical exposition," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 45(2), pages 94-103, September.
    12. Ichino, Andrea & Favero, Carlo A. & Rustichini, Aldo, 2020. "Restarting the economy while saving lives under Covid-19," CEPR Discussion Papers 14664, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Brodeur, Abel & Clark, Andrew E. & Fleche, Sarah & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2021. "COVID-19, lockdowns and well-being: Evidence from Google Trends," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    14. Federico Crudu & Roberta Di Stefano & Giovanni Mellace & Silvia Tiezzi, 2022. "The Gray Zone," Department of Economics University of Siena 874, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    15. David M. Arseneau & Alejandro Drexler & Mitsuhiro Osada, 2022. "Central Bank Communication about Climate Change," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2022-031, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    16. Mark Pingle, 2022. "Addressing threats like Covid: why we will tend to over-react and how we can do better," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 21(1), pages 9-23, June.
    17. Abel Brodeur & David Gray & Anik Islam & Suraiya Bhuiyan, 2021. "A literature review of the economics of COVID‐19," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 1007-1044, September.
    18. De Santis, Roberto A. & Van der Veken, Wouter, 2020. "Macroeconomic risks across the globe due to the Spanish Flu," Working Paper Series 2466, European Central Bank.
    19. David Baqaee & Emmanuel Farhi, 2020. "Nonlinear Production Networks with an Application to the Covid-19 Crisis," NBER Working Papers 27281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Kahanec, Martin & Lafférs, Lukáš & Schmidpeter, Bernhard, 2021. "The Impact of Mass Antigen Testing for COVID-19 on the Prevalence of the Disease," GLO Discussion Paper Series 775, Global Labor Organization (GLO).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:24:y:2022:i:5:p:944-967. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.