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Lockdown Fatigue: The Diminishing Effects of Quarantines on the Spread of COVID-19


  • Eduardo Levy Yeyati
  • Patricio Goldstein

    (Center for International Development at Harvard University)

  • Luca Sartorio


Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) have been for most countries the key policy instrument utilized to contain the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we conduct an empirical analysis of the impact of these policies on the virus’ transmission and death toll, for a panel of 152 countries, from the start of the pandemic through December 31, 2020. We find that lockdowns tend to significantly reduce the spread of the virus and the number of related deaths. We also show that this benign impact declines over time: after four months of strict lockdown, NPIs have a significantly weaker contribution in terms of their effect in reducing COVID-19 related fatalities. Part of the fading effect of quarantines could be attributed to an increasing non-compliance with mobility restrictions, as reflected in our estimates of a declining effect of lockdowns on measures of actual mobility. However, we additionally find that a reduction in de facto mobility also exhibits a diminishing effect on health outcomes, which suggests that lockdown fatigues may have introduce broader hurdles to containment policies.

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  • Eduardo Levy Yeyati & Patricio Goldstein & Luca Sartorio, 2021. "Lockdown Fatigue: The Diminishing Effects of Quarantines on the Spread of COVID-19," CID Working Papers 391, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cid:wpfacu:391

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Askitas, Nikos & Tatsiramos, Konstantinos & Verheyden, Bertrand, 2020. "Lockdown Strategies, Mobility Patterns and COVID-19," IZA Discussion Papers 13293, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Mr. Pragyan Deb & Davide Furceri & Mr. Jonathan David Ostry & Nour Tawk, 2020. "The Effect of Containment Measures on the COVID-19 Pandemic," IMF Working Papers 2020/159, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Eduardo Levy Yeyati & Luca Sartorio, 2020. "Take me out: De facto limits on strict lockdowns in developing countries," Department of Economics Working Papers wp_gob_2020_08, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    4. Eduardo Levi Yeyati & Luca Sartorio, 2020. "Take me out: De facto limits on strict lockdowns in developing countries," Working Papers 15, Red Nacional de Investigadores en Economía (RedNIE).
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    2. Theodoros Evgeniou & Mathilde Fekom & Anton Ovchinnikov & Raphaël Porcher & Camille Pouchol & Nicolas Vayatis, 2023. "Pandemic lockdown, isolation, and exit policies based on machine learning predictions," Production and Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, vol. 32(5), pages 1307-1322, May.
    3. Adolfo Rubinstein & Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 2022. "An Integrated Epidemiological and Economic Model of COVID-19 NPIs in Argentina," Working Papers 197, Red Nacional de Investigadores en Economía (RedNIE).
    4. Herby, Jonas & Jonung, Lars & Hanke, Steve, 2022. "A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality – II," Studies in Applied Economics 210, The Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.
    5. Bussolo,Maurizio & Sarma,Nayantara & Torre,Ivan, 2022. "Indirect Effects of COVID-19 Nonpharmaceutical Interventions on Vaccine Acceptance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10106, The World Bank.
    6. Daniel Goller & Stefan C. Wolter, 2021. "“Too shocked to search” The COVID-19 shutdowns’ impact on the search for apprenticeships," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics, Springer;Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics, vol. 157(1), pages 1-15, December.
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    13. Jiang, Yi & Laranjo, Jade & Thomas, Milan, 2022. "COVID-19 Lockdown Policy and Heterogeneous Responses of Urban Mobility: Evidence from the Philippines," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 659, Asian Development Bank.
    14. Klose, Jens & Tillmann, Peter, 2022. "The Real and Financial Impact of COVID-19 Around the World," VfS Annual Conference 2022 (Basel): Big Data in Economics 264030, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
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