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Socioeconomic Network Heterogeneity and Pandemic Policy Response


  • Mohammad Akbarpour
  • Cody Cook
  • Aude Marzuoli
  • Simon Mongey
  • Abhishek Nagaraj
  • Matteo Saccarola
  • Pietro Tebaldi
  • Shoshana Vasserman
  • Hanbin Yang


We develop a heterogeneous-agents network-based model to analyze alternative policies during a pandemic outbreak, accounting for health and economic trade-offs within the same empirical framework. We leverage a variety of data sources, including data on individuals' mobility and encounters across metropolitan areas, health records, and measures of the possibility to be productively working from home. This combination of data sources allows us to build a framework in which the severity of a disease outbreak varies across locations and industries, and across individuals who differ by age, occupation, and preexisting health conditions. We use this framework to analyze the impact of different social distancing policies in the context of the COVID-19 outbreaks across US metropolitan areas. Our results highlight how outcomes vary across areas in relation to the underlying heterogeneity in population density, social network structures, population health, and employment characteristics. We find that policies by which individuals who can work from home continue to do so, or in which schools and firms alternate schedules across different groups of students and employees, can be effective in limiting the health and healthcare costs of the pandemic outbreak while also reducing employment losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Mohammad Akbarpour & Cody Cook & Aude Marzuoli & Simon Mongey & Abhishek Nagaraj & Matteo Saccarola & Pietro Tebaldi & Shoshana Vasserman & Hanbin Yang, 2020. "Socioeconomic Network Heterogeneity and Pandemic Policy Response," NBER Working Papers 27374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27374
    Note: HC HE PE TWP

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Villas-Boas, Sofia B & Sears, James & Villas-Boas, Miguel & Villas-Boas, Vasco, 2020. "Are We #StayingHome to Flatten the Curve?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5h97n884, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    2. Seth G. Benzell & Avinash Collis & Christos Nicolaides, 2020. "Rationing social contact during the COVID-19 pandemic: Transmission risk and social benefits of US locations," The National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(26), pages 14642-14644, June.
    3. Dingel, Jonathan I. & Neiman, Brent, 2020. "How many jobs can be done at home?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 189(C).
    4. David Rezza Baqaee & Emmanuel Farhi, 2019. "The Macroeconomic Impact of Microeconomic Shocks: Beyond Hulten's Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 87(4), pages 1155-1203, July.
    5. Hunt Allcott & Levi Boxell & Jacob C. Conway & Matthew Gentzkow & Michael Thaler & David Y. Yang, 2020. "Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 26946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Simon Mongey & Laura Pilossoph & Alex Weinberg, 2020. "Which Workers Bear the Burden of Social Distancing Policies?," NBER Working Papers 27085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alexander W. Bartik & Marianne Bertrand & Zoë B. Cullen & Edward L. Glaeser & Michael Luca & Christopher T. Stanton, 2020. "How Are Small Businesses Adjusting to COVID-19? Early Evidence from a Survey," NBER Working Papers 26989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engy Ziedan & Kosali I. Simon & Coady Wing, 2020. "Effects of State COVID-19 Closure Policy on NON-COVID-19 Health Care Utilization," NBER Working Papers 27621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dylan Balla-Elliott & Zoë B. Cullen & Edward L. Glaeser & Michael Luca & Christopher T. Stanton, 2020. "Business Reopening Decisions and Demand Forecasts During the COVID-19 Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 27362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Rao, Akaash & Roth, Christopher & Yanagizawa-Drott, David, 2020. "Misinformation during a Pandemic," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1274, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    4. Marina Azzimonti-Renzo & Alessandra Fogli & Fabrizio Perri & Mark Ponder, 2020. "Pandemic Control in ECON-EPI Networks," Staff Report 609, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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