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Government Mandated Lockdowns Do Not Reduce Covid-19 Deaths: Implications for Evaluating the Stringent New Zealand Response

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Abstract

The New Zealand policy response to Coronavirus (Covid-19) was the most stringent in the world during the Level 4 lockdown. At least ten billion New Zealand dollars of output (around 3.3% of GDP) were lost then, compared to staying at Level 2. For lockdown to be optimal requires large health benefits to offset these output losses. Forecast deaths from epidemiological models are not valid counterfactuals, due to poor identification. Instead, I use empirical data, based on variation amongst United States counties, over one-fifth of which just had social distancing rather than lockdown. Political drivers of lockdown provide identification. Lockdowns do not reduce Covid-19 deaths. This pattern is visible on each date that key lockdown decisions were made in New Zealand. The ineffectiveness of lockdowns implies New Zealand suffered large economic costs for little benefit in terms of lives saved.

Suggested Citation

  • John Gibson, 2020. "Government Mandated Lockdowns Do Not Reduce Covid-19 Deaths: Implications for Evaluating the Stringent New Zealand Response," Working Papers in Economics 20/06, University of Waikato.
  • Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:20/06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kees Jan Van Garderen & Chandra Shah, 2002. "Exact interpretation of dummy variables in semilogarithmic equations," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 5(1), pages 149-159, June.
    2. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim & Susan Olivia, 2014. "Cluster-Corrected Standard Errors with Exact Locations Known: An Example from Rural Indonesia," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(3), pages 1857-1863.
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    1. Choices and options, public and private
      by ? in croaking cassandra on 2020-08-20 00:25:00

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Covid-19; deaths; impact evaluation; lockdown; response stringency; New Zealand;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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