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Distributional Effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown

Author

Listed:
  • Marius Clemens
  • Maik Heinemann

Abstract

A two-sector incomplete markets model with heterogeneous agents can be used to study the distributional effects of the COVID-19 lockdown. While negative aggregate welfare effects of the lockdown are unavoidable, the size of aggregate welfare effects as well as the distribution of the welfare effects across agents turn out to depend on the specific economic environment of the affected economy as well as the response of the government to the shock. We use the model to simulate the lockdown effects based on a calibration to German data. First, we find that without state aid and limited access to international financial markets especially poor household suffer large welfare losses, while wealthy house- hold could even benefit from the lockdown. Second, a state aid program reduces large parts of the welfare losses of workers across all income groups in the affected sectors by forcing loss sharing with agents working in the non-affected sector. However, wealthy households no matter in which sector still benefit more than the average household. Third, access to international financial markets is key to shift relative welfare gains from superrich to poorer households in both sectors. Once the country is able to borrow internationally, the benefit for superrich diminishes. Our results implicate that countries with rather limited access to financial markets and less stable government budget positions will suffer higher welfare losses and increases in inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Marius Clemens & Maik Heinemann, 2020. "Distributional Effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1874, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1874
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Carroll, Christopher D., 2006. "The method of endogenous gridpoints for solving dynamic stochastic optimization problems," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 312-320, June.
    2. Veronica Guerrieri & Guido Lorenzoni & Ludwig Straub & Iván Werning, 2022. "Macroeconomic Implications of COVID-19: Can Negative Supply Shocks Cause Demand Shortages?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(5), pages 1437-1474, May.
    3. Andrew Atkeson, 2020. "What Will be the Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the US? Rough Estimates of Disease Scenarios," Staff Report 595, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Modelling

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; Income and Wealth Inequality; Heterogeneous Agents; Fiscal Policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality

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