Did California's Shelter-in-Place Order Work? Early Coronavirus-Related Public Health Effects

88 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2020 Last revised: 3 Apr 2022

See all articles by Andrew Friedson

Andrew Friedson

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics

Drew McNichols

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics

Dhaval Dave

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office; Bentley University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 2020, which required all residents of the state of California to shelter in place for all but essential activities such as grocery shopping, retrieving prescriptions from a pharmacy, or caring for relatives. This shelter-in-place order (SIPO), the first such statewide order issued in the United States, was designed to reduce COVID-19 cases and mortality. While the White House Task Force on the Coronavirus has credited the State of California for taking early action to prevent a statewide COVID-19 outbreak, no study has examined its impact. This study is the first to estimate the effect of SIPO adoption on health. Using daily state-level coronavirus data and a synthetic control research design, we find that California’s statewide SIPO reduced COVID-19 cases by 125.5 to 219.7 per 100,000 population by April 20, one month following the order. We further find that California’s SIPO led to as many as 1,661 fewer COVID-19 deaths during this period. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that there were about 400 job losses per life saved during this short-run post-treatment period.

Suggested Citation

Friedson, Andrew and McNichols, Drew and Sabia, Joseph and Dave, Dhaval and Dave, Dhaval, Did California's Shelter-in-Place Order Work? Early Coronavirus-Related Public Health Effects (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26992, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580550

Andrew Friedson (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
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Drew McNichols

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States
5415564953 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.drewmcnichols.com/

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States

Dhaval Dave

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Bentley University - Department of Economics ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452-4705
United States

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