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On the Effects of COVID-19 Safer-At-Home Policies on Social Distancing, Car Crashes and Pollution

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  • Brodeur, Abel

    (University of Ottawa)

  • Cook, Nikolai

    (Wilfrid Laurier University)

  • Wright, Taylor

    (University of Ottawa)

Abstract

In response to COVID-19, dramatic safer-at-home policies were implemented. The understanding of their impacts on social distancing, travel and pollution is in its infancy. We pair a differences-in-differences framework and synthetic control methods with rich cellular tracking and high frequency air pollution data. We find that state and U.S. county safer-at-home policies are successful in encouraging social distance; beginning the day of the policy trips outside the home are sharply decreased while time in residence rises sharply. With less vehicle traffic, we find: a 50% reduction in vehicular collisions; an approximately 25% reduction in Particulate Matter (PM2.5) concentrations; and a reduction of the incidence of county-days with an air quality index of code yellow or above by two-thirds. We calculate that the benefits from avoided car collisions could range from $7 billion to $24 billion while the benefits from reduced pollution could range from $650 million to $13.8 billion.

Suggested Citation

  • Brodeur, Abel & Cook, Nikolai & Wright, Taylor, 2020. "On the Effects of COVID-19 Safer-At-Home Policies on Social Distancing, Car Crashes and Pollution," IZA Discussion Papers 13255, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13255
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    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Health > Distancing and Lockdown > Effect on well-being

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    1. Brandily, Paul & Brébion, Clément & Briole, Simon & Khoury, Laura, 2020. "A Poorly Understood Disease? The Unequal Distribution of Excess Mortality Due to COVID-19 Across French Municipalities," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 15/2020, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    2. Ahn, Kunwon & Lee, Jun Yeong & Winters, John V., 2020. "Employment Opportunities and High School Completion during the COVID-19 Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 13802, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Hung-Hao Chang & Chad Meyerhoefer & Feng-An Yang, 2020. "COVID-19 Prevention and Air Pollution in the Absence of a Lockdown," NBER Working Papers 27604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Steve Cicala, 2020. "Powering Work From Home," Working Papers 2020-147, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    5. Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Trinh, Trong-Anh, 2021. "Does the COVID-19 lockdown improve global air quality? New cross-national evidence on its unintended consequences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 105(C).
    6. Brodeur, Abel & Cook, Nikolai & Wright, Taylor, 2021. "On the effects of COVID-19 safer-at-home policies on social distancing, car crashes and pollution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).
    7. Dang, Hai-Anh & Trinh, Trong-Anh, 2020. "The Beneficial Impacts of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Air Pollution: Evidence from Vietnam," IZA Discussion Papers 13651, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Dang, Hai-Anh H. & Trinh, Trong-Anh, 2020. "Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Improve Global Air Quality? New Cross-national Evidence on Its Unintended Consequences," GLO Discussion Paper Series 606, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    9. Paul Brandily & Clément Brébion & Simon Briole & Laura Khoury, 2021. "A Poorly Understood Disease? The Evolution of the Income Gradient in Excess Mortality Due to COVID-19 within Urban Areas," Working Papers halshs-03154551, HAL.
    10. Stephen R. Barnes & Louis-Philippe Beland & Jason Huh & Dongwoo Kim, 2020. "The Effect of COVID-19 Lockdown on Mobility and Traffic Accidents: Evidence from Louisiana," Carleton Economic Papers 20-12, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
    11. Oguzoglu, Umut, 2020. "COVID-19 Lockdowns and Decline in Traffic Related Deaths and Injuries," IZA Discussion Papers 13278, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Paul Brandily & Clément Brébion & Simon Briole & Laura Khoury, 2021. "A Poorly Understood Disease? The Impact of COVID-19 on the Income Gradient in Mortality over the Course of the Pandemic," Working Papers halshs-02895908, HAL.
    13. Deepti Muley & Md. Shahin & Charitha Dias & Muhammad Abdullah, 2020. "Role of Transport during Outbreak of Infectious Diseases: Evidence from the Past," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(18), pages 1-22, September.
    14. Muley, Deepti & Ghanim, Mohammad Shareef & Mohammad, Anas & Kharbeche, Mohamed, 2021. "Quantifying the impact of COVID–19 preventive measures on traffic in the State of Qatar," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 45-59.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; safer-at-home; lockdowns; pollution; traffic; car crashes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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