03 Jul 20 | News

Which lockdown policies mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the world, and why?

New LISER Article: ‘Lockdown strategies, mobility patterns and COVID-19’

A new article1 entitled ‘Lockdown strategies, mobility patterns and COVID-19’ co-authored by two LISER researchers, Konstantinos Tatsiramos and Bertrand Verheyden jointly with Nikos Askitas (IZA – Institute of Labor Economics in Bonn Germany) was recently published in “Covid Economics, Vetted and Real-Time Papers” by CEPR.

In the article, the researchers evaluate the effects of 8 lockdown policies2 on the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and on the mobility patterns of the populations across 135 countries. The motivation of their research stems from the need to understand which policies have proven thus far to be the most effective in containing the virus given the important collateral economic costs that they induce. Since multiple policies were introduced almost simultaneously, the paper develops a novel approach to examine each policy’s effect while accounting for the existence of confounding concurrent policies.

While this topic is still evolving as new data becomes available, this research provides important and robust results. First, the the most effective policies at reducing the daily incidence of COVID-19 are the cancelation of public events, restrictions on private gatherings and the closures of schools and workplaces. International travel controls have a significant, though short-lived, levee-like effect. Second, once concurrent policies are controlled for, stay-at-home orders have very limited effects, while no effects are found for public transport closures and restrictions on movements across cities and regions.

The effects of the key policies are mediated through population mobility patterns in places where epidemiological factors such as the volume, frequency and density of interactions are important.

1 Askitas, N, Tatsiramos, K & Verheyden, B (2020) Lockdown strategies, mobility patterns and COVID-19. In: C Wyplosz (ed.), Covid Economics – Vetted and Real-Time Papers, Covid Economics, no. 23, The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), pp. 263-302.

2 The policies are international travel controls, public transport closures, cancelation of public events, restrictions on private gatherings, school and workplace closures, stay-at-home requirements, and internal mobility restrictions (across cities and regions).