Ulugbek Aminjonov, Olivier Bargain, Tanguy Bernard, 09 October 2021

In many countries, poorer people have been more exposed to Covid-19 as they cannot afford to stay at home instead of going to work. This column shows that in low- and middle-income countries, emergency income support schemes have significantly reduced differences in rates of contagion due to wealth or poverty status by allowing poorer people to also stay at home. As well as preserving livelihoods and alleviating poverty, income support has also been successful in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Fiona Burlig, Anant Sudarshan, Garrison Schlauch, 27 June 2021

At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the developing world took many of the same policy steps as developed nations to contain the spread, including lockdowns. This column uses evidence from India, where the government implemented one of the most stringent lockdowns, to show that domestic travel bans may actually have increased Covid-19 cases in developing countries with large urban-rural migrant populations. While a travel ban is in place, the spread of the disease in migrants’ rural home districts is indeed temporarily stopped. But when travel is finally permitted, migrants return home possibly carrying many more infections than if they had been allowed to leave early.

Mario Crucini, Oscar O’Flaherty, 29 May 2021

Throughout much of 2020, the Trump administration deferred decision making regarding stay-at-home orders to the state and local level. The data-driven analysis in this column suggests that a national stay-at-home order at the onset of the pandemic, when the virus was spreading primarily in a small group of cities, may have imposed earlier and deeper economic costs on states with relatively low case numbers without any corresponding reduction in infection rates in such states. But as the virus spread more uniformly across the country in the last several months of 2020, a nationwide order seemed more appropriate. The findings demonstrate the value of public policy discretion at the state and local level when it comes to implementing stay-at-home orders with the simultaneous and competing goals of minimising community spread and business dislocation. 

Olivier Bargain, Ulugbek Aminjonov, 23 October 2020

As a second wave of COVID-19 threatens the health of communities across the globe, governments are considering another round of lockdowns. But the success of those policies will depend largely on the levels of compliance, which will in turn depend on the confidence that citizens have in their leaders. This column summarises the results of recent studies examining the effect of civic trust during the first wave of the pandemic. The evidence points to a higher rate of compliance with stay-at-home policies in regions with a higher level of long-term trust in politicians.

Chen Chen, Sudipto Dasgupta, Thanh Huynh, Ying Xia, 08 July 2020

Stay-at-home orders, when effective, can save both lives and the economy. Even though the short-term economic impact is very significant, not getting the pandemic under control can impose even higher economic costs in the future. This column studies the market reactions following staggered lockdown events across US states during Covid-19. It finds that returns on firms located in lockdown states are higher following the lockdown. These reactions can be interpreted as reflecting updated beliefs of market participants in the light of events that follow the lockdowns, such as compliance with stay-at-home orders.

Sam Engle, John Stromme, Anson Zhou, 12 May 2020

Lockdown policies are used to ‘flatten the curve’, but their success rate remains uncertain. This column uses GPS data from mobile phones in the US to show that stay-at-home orders do reduce mobility. However, voluntary reductions are also important, regardless of stay-at-home orders. Counties with a higher share of older people or a lower share of Republican votes are more responsive to lockdown measures. Further, counties with a larger share of jobs that are ‘teleworkable’, a higher median income, or a lower use of public transit are also more responsive, suggesting that multiple factors must be considered.  

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