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Optimal Targeted Lockdowns in a Multi-Group SIR Model

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Victor Chernozhukov
  • Iván Werning
  • Michael D. Whinston

Abstract

We study targeted lockdowns in a multi-group SIR model where infection, hospitalization and fatality rates vary between groups—in particular between the “young”, “the middle-aged” and the “old”. Our model enables a tractable quantitative analysis of optimal policy. For baseline parameter values for the COVID-19 pandemic applied to the US, we find that optimal policies differentially targeting risk/age groups significantly outperform optimal uniform policies and most of the gains can be realized by having stricter lockdown policies on the oldest group. Intuitively, a strict and long lockdown for the most vulnerable group both reduces infections and enables less strict lockdowns for the lower-risk groups. We also study the impacts of group distancing, testing and contract tracing, the matching technology and the expected arrival time of a vaccine on optimal policies. Overall, targeted policies that are combined with measures that reduce interactions between groups and increase testing and isolation of the infected can minimize both economic losses and deaths in our model.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Victor Chernozhukov & Iván Werning & Michael D. Whinston, 2020. "Optimal Targeted Lockdowns in a Multi-Group SIR Model," NBER Working Papers 27102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27102
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Berger & Kyle Herkenhoff & Chengdai Huang & Simon Mongey, 2022. "Testing and Reopening in an SEIR Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 43, pages 1-21, January.
    2. Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús & Jones, Charles I, 2020. "Estimating and Simulating a SIRD Model of COVID-19 for Many Countries, States, and Cities," CEPR Discussion Papers 14711, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Fenichel, Eli P., 2013. "Economic considerations for social distancing and behavioral based policies during an epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 440-451.
    4. David Berger & Kyle Herkenhoff & Chengdai Huang & Simon Mongey, . "Testing and Reopening in an SEIR Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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