A new paper published online in the Journal of Population Economics finds that adopting safer-at-home orders or non-essential business closures 1 day before infections double can curtail the COVID-19 death rate by 1.9%.
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Timing of social distancing policies and COVID-19 mortality: county-level evidence from the U.S.
by Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Neeraj Kaushal & Ashley N. Muchow
Published ONLINE FIRST 2021: Journal of Population Economics, scheduled for 2021. OPEN ACCESS free available.
Author Abstract: Using county-level data on COVID-19 mortality and infections, along with county-level information on the adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), we examine how the speed of NPI adoption affected COVID-19 mortality in the United States. Our estimates suggest that adopting safer-at-home orders or non-essential business closures 1 day before infections double can curtail the COVID-19 death rate by 1.9%. This finding proves robust to alternative measures of NPI adoption speed, model specifications that control for testing, other NPIs, and mobility and across various samples (national, the Northeast, excluding New York, and excluding the Northeast). We also find that the adoption speed of NPIs is associated with lower infections and is unrelated to non-COVID deaths, suggesting these measures slowed contagion. Finally, NPI adoption speed appears to have been less effective in Republican counties, suggesting that political ideology might have compromised their efficacy.
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