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What Explains Temporal and Geographic Variation in the Early US Coronavirus Pandemic?

Author

Listed:
  • Hunt Allcott
  • Levi Boxell
  • Jacob C. Conway
  • Billy A. Ferguson
  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Benny Goldman

Abstract

We provide new evidence on the drivers of the early US coronavirus pandemic. We combine an epidemiological model of disease transmission with quasi-random variation arising from the timing of stay-at-home-orders to estimate the causal roles of policy interventions and voluntary social distancing. We then relate the residual variation in disease transmission rates to observable features of cities. We estimate significant impacts of policy and social distancing responses, but we show that the magnitude of policy effects is modest, and most social distancing is driven by voluntary responses. Moreover, we show that neither policy nor rates of voluntary social distancing explain a meaningful share of geographic variation. The most important predictors of which cities were hardest hit by the pandemic are exogenous characteristics such as population and density.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Levi Boxell & Jacob C. Conway & Billy A. Ferguson & Matthew Gentzkow & Benny Goldman, 2020. "What Explains Temporal and Geographic Variation in the Early US Coronavirus Pandemic?," NBER Working Papers 27965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27965
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    Cited by:

    1. Wright, Austin L. & Sonin, Konstantin & Driscoll, Jesse & Wilson, Jarnickae, 2020. "Poverty and economic dislocation reduce compliance with COVID-19 shelter-in-place protocols," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 544-554.
    2. Shenoy, Ajay & Sharma, Bhavyaa & Xu, Guanghong & Kapoor, Rolly & Rho, Haedong Aiden & Sangha, Kinpritma, 2022. "God is in the rain: The impact of rainfall-induced early social distancing on COVID-19 outbreaks," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    3. Kyriakos C. Neanidis & Maria Paola Rana, 2021. "Crime in the Era of COVID-19: Evidence from England," Economics Discussion Paper Series 2103, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    4. Mario J. Crucini & Oscar O'Flaherty, 2020. "Stay-at-Home Orders in a Fiscal Union," NBER Working Papers 28182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Rees-Jones, Alex & D’Attoma, John & Piolatto, Amedeo & Salvadori, Luca, 2022. "Experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and support for safety-net expansion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 1090-1104.
    6. INOUE Tomoo & OKIMOTO Tatsuyoshi, 2022. "Exploring the Dynamic Relationship between Mobility and the Spread of COVID-19, and the Role of Vaccines," Discussion papers 22011, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    7. Bisin, Alberto & Moro, Andrea, 2022. "JUE insight: Learning epidemiology by doing: The empirical implications of a Spatial-SIR model with behavioral responses," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    8. Fallucchi, Francesco & Görges, Luise & Machado, Joël & Pieters, Arne & Suhrcke, Marc, 2021. "How to make universal, voluntary testing for COVID-19 work? A behavioural economics perspective," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 125(8), pages 972-980.
    9. Burcu Ozgun & Tom Broekel, 2022. "Saved by the news? COVID-19 in German news and its relationship with regional mobility behavior," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2224, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Oct 2022.
    10. Fe, Hao & Sanfelice, Viviane, 2022. "How bad is crime for business? Evidence from consumer behavior," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    11. Danae Arroyos-Calvera & Michalis Drouvelis & Johannes Lohse & Rebecca McDonald, 2020. "Improving compliance with COVID-19 guidance: a workplace field experiment," Discussion Papers 20-30, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    12. Obst, Thomas & Schläger, Dan, 2021. "Cost-benefit considerations of lockdowns: What are we missing?," IW-Kurzberichte 33/2021e, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) / German Economic Institute.

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    JEL classification:

    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • H79 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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