God is in the Rain: The Impact of Rainfall-Induced Early Social Distancing on COVID-19 Outbreaks
48 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2020 Last revised: 7 Jul 2021
Date Written: April 24, 2021
We measure the benefit to society created by preventing COVID-19 deaths through a marginal increase in early social distancing. We exploit county-level rainfall on the last weekend before statewide lockdown in the early phase of the pandemic. After controlling for historical rainfall, temperature, and state fixed-effects, current rainfall is a plausibly exogenous instrument for social distancing. A one percent decrease in the population leaving home on the weekend before lockdown creates an average of 132 dollars of benefit per county resident within 2 weeks. The impacts of earlier distancing compound over time and mainly arise from lowering the risk of a major outbreak, yielding large but unevenly distributed social benefit.
Funding: None to Declare
Declaration of Interest: Kinpritma Sangha Consults with pharmaceutical companies. Did not receive any funding or compensation for this work. All other authors none to declare.
Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus, social distancing, rainfall
JEL Classification: I12, I18, H75
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation