Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

37 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2020 Last revised: 22 Jun 2020

See all articles by Diane Alexander

Diane Alexander

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Ezra Karger

University of Chicago

Date Written: June 22, 2020

Abstract

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cell phone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay home: County-level measures of mobility declined 8% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: small businesses and large retail stores. However, consumers sharply increased spending on food delivery services after orders went into effect. Third, responses to stay-at-home orders were fairly uniform across the country, and do not vary by income, political leanings, or urban/rural status.

Keywords: COVID-19, consumer spending, high-frequency data

JEL Classification: E21, I12, R2, R5

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Diane and Karger, Ezra, Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior (June 22, 2020). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2020-12, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3583625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3583625

Diane Alexander (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Ezra Karger

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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