Paid Sick-Leave and Physical Mobility: Evidence from the United States During a Pandemic
66 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020 Last revised: 23 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 2020
We study the effects of a massive temporary U.S. paid sick leave (PSL) mandate that became effective April 1st, 2020 on self-quarantining, proxied by physical mobility behaviors gleaned from cellular devices. Such behaviors are critical for containment of infectious diseases. The national PSL policy was implemented in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and mandated two weeks of fully compensated paid leave. We study the impact of this policy using difference-in-differences methods, leveraging pre-policy county-level differences in the share of ‘nonessential’ workers likely eligible for paid sick leave benefits. We find robust evidence that the policy increased the average number of hours at home and reduced the share of the individuals likely at work. Comparing the county with the lowest to highest policy exposure, we find that the average hours per day not at home, and at work decreased by 8.9% and 6.9% post-policy.
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