Patricio Goldstein, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Luca Sartorio, 30 March 2021

Non-pharmaceutical interventions have been key to containing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This column examines whether the effectiveness of lockdowns on the virus’s spread and death toll has changed over the past year, using data from 152 countries from the onset of the pandemic through 31 December 2020. Initially, lockdowns are associated with a significant reduction in the spread of the virus and the number of related deaths, but this effect declines over time. Lockdown does not work as a continuous containment policy in the event of a protracted pandemic.

Nirosha Elsem Varghese, Iryna Sabat, Sebastian Neumann-Böhme, Jonas Schreyögg, Tom Stargardt, Aleksandra Torbica, Job van Exel, Pedro Barros, Werner Brouwer, 26 October 2020

The World Health Organization recommended a range of preventative behaviours to protect the public from COVID-19. This column examines how familiar and compliant the adult population of seven European countries were with WHO’s recommendations. Using individual-level data from 7,000 respondents to an online survey conducted in April 2020, the study finds that information from WHO in the context of COVID-19 was well trusted and largely followed, with heterogeneities by recommendation type, country, and individual level characteristics such as region, age, gender, and education. 

Sophia Chen, Deniz Igan, Nicola Pierri, Andrea Presbitero, 11 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns have led to unprecedented economic costs around the world. Using high-frequency indicators, this column shows that while COVID-19 is a global shock, European countries and US states with larger outbreaks have suffered significantly larger economic losses. The impact of COVID-19 is mostly captured by changes in people’s observed mobility whereas, so far, there is no robust evidence supporting additional impact from the adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions, especially in the US. The results indicate a crucial role for communication and trust-building.


CEPR Policy Research