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A Simple Planning Problem forCOVID-19 Lockdown

Author

Listed:
  • Fernando Alvarez

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

  • David Argente

    (Pennsylvania State University)

  • Francesco Lippi

    (LUISS and EIEF)

Abstract

We study the optimal lockdown policy for a planner who wants to control the fatalities of a pandemic while minimizing the output costs of the lockdown. We use the SIR epidemiology model and a simple linear economy to formalize the planner’s dynamic control problem. The optimal policy depends on the fraction of infected and of susceptible in the population. We parametrize the model using micro data on theCOVID19 pandemic and the economic breadth of the lockdown. The quantitative analysis identifies the features that shape the intensity and duration of the optimal lockdown policy. Our baseline parametrization is conditional on a 1% of infected agents at the outbreak, no cure for the disease, and the possibility of testing (identifying those who acquired immunity to the disease). The optimal policy prescribes a severe lockdown beginning two weeks after the outbreak, covers 60% of the population after a month, and is gradually withdrawn covering 20% of the population after 3 months. The intensity of the lockdown depends critically on the gradient of the fatality rate as a function of the infected, and also on the assumed value of a statistical life. The absence of testing increases the economic costs of the lockdown, leads to worse welfare outcomes and shortens the duration of the optimal lockdown.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando Alvarez & David Argente & Francesco Lippi, 2020. "A Simple Planning Problem forCOVID-19 Lockdown," EIEF Working Papers Series 2005, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Mar 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:eie:wpaper:2005
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Diamond, P. A. & Maskin, Eric, 1981. "An equilibrium analysis of search and breach of contract II. A non-steady state example," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 165-195, October.
    2. Facundo Piguillem & Liyan Shi, 2022. "Optimal Covid-19 Quarantine and Testing Policies," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 132(647), pages 2534-2562.
    3. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursua & Joanna Weng, 2020. "The Coronavirus and the Great Influenza Epidemic - Lessons from the "Spanish Flu" for the Coronavirus's Potential Effects on Mortality and Economic Activity," CESifo Working Paper Series 8166, CESifo.
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    5. repec:aei:rpaper:1008560098 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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