IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Social Distancing and Supply Disruptions in a Pandemic


  • Martin Bodenstein
  • Giancarlo Corsetti
  • Luca Guerrieri


Drastic public health measures such as social distancing or lockdowns can reduce the loss of human life by keeping the number of infected individuals from exceeding the capacity of the health care system but are often criticized because of the social and the economic cost they entail. We question this view by combining an epidemiological model, calibrated to capture the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with a multisector model, designed to capture key characteristics of the U.S. Input Output Tables. Our two-sector model features a core sector that produces intermediate inputs not easily replaced by inputs from the other sector, subject to minimum-scale requirements. We show that, by affecting workers in this core sector, the high peak of an infection not mitigated by social distancing may cause very large upfront economic costs in terms of output, consumption and investment. Social distancing measures can reduce these costs, especially if skewed towards non-core industries and occupations with tasks that can be performed from home, helping to smooth the surge in infections among workers in the core sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Bodenstein & Giancarlo Corsetti & Luca Guerrieri, 2020. "Social Distancing and Supply Disruptions in a Pandemic," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-031, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2020-31
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2020.031

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    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 > Economic consequences > Production and supply


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

    Cited by:

    1. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Charles I. Jones, 2020. "Estimating and Simulating a SIRD Model of COVID-19 for Many Countries, States, and Cities," NBER Working Papers 27128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Miltiadis Makris, 2020. "Covid and Social Distancing with a Heterogenous Population," Studies in Economics 2002, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    3. Timo Boppart & Karl Harmenberg & John Hassler & Per Krusell & Jonna Olsson, 2020. "Integrated epi-econ assessment," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 297, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    4. Di Nino, Virginia & Veltri, Bruno, 2020. "The viral effects of foreign trade and supply networks in the euro area," Economic Bulletin Articles, European Central Bank, vol. 6.
    5. Eduardo Gutiérrez & Enrique Moral-Benito, 2020. "Medidas de contención, evolución del empleo y propagación del Covid-19 en los municipios españoles," Occasional Papers 2022, Banco de España;Occasional Papers Homepage.
    6. Balduzzi, Pierluigi & Brancati, Emanuele & Brianti, Marco & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 2020. "The Economic Effects of COVID-19 and Credit Constraints: Evidence from Italian Firms' Expectations and Plans," IZA Discussion Papers 13629, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Christian Dreger & Daniel Gros, 2020. "Social Distancing Requirements and the Determinants of the COVID-19 Recession and Recovery in Europe," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 55(6), pages 365-371, November.
    8. Daniel Rees, 2020. "What Comes Next?," BIS Working Papers 898, Bank for International Settlements.
    9. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo & Mathias Trabandt, 2020. "Epidemics in the Neoclassical and New Keynesian Models," NBER Working Papers 27430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2020. "Productivity of Working from Home during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from an Employee Survey," Discussion papers 20073, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    11. Pierluigi Balduzzi & Emanuele Brancati & Marco Brianti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2020. "The Economic Effects of COVID-19 and Credit Constraints: Evidence from Italian Firms’ Expectations and Plans," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 1013, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 22 Aug 2020.
    12. Pedro Brinca & Joao B. Duarte & Miguel Faria-e-Castro, 2020. "Measuring Labor Supply and Demand Shocks during COVID-19," Working Papers 2020-011, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised Dec 2020.
    13. Behrens, Kristian & Kichko, Sergey & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2021. "Working from home: Too much of a good thing?," CEPR Discussion Papers 15669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Toufique, M. M. K., 2020. "Why do some countries have more COVID-19 cases than others? Evidence from 70 most affected countries sans China," EconStor Preprints 222456, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    15. Ambrocio, Gene, 2020. "European household and business expectations during COVID-19: Towards a v-shaped recovery in confidence?," BoF Economics Review 6/2020, Bank of Finland.
    16. Getachew, Yoseph, 2020. "Optimal social distancing in SIR based macroeconomic models," MERIT Working Papers 2020-034, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    17. Paolo Manasse & G. Alfredo Minerva & Roberto Patuelli & Lorenzo Zirulia, 2020. "How to Lockdown an Economy: an Input Output Analysis of the Italian Case," Working Papers wp1152, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.

    More about this item


    Infectious disease; Epidemic; Recession; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:fip:fedgfe:2020-31. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

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

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.