Were Urban Cowboys Enough to Control Covid-19? Local Shelter-in-Place Orders and Coronavirus Case Growth

39 Pages Posted: 23 May 2020

See all articles by Dhaval Dave

Dhaval Dave

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

Andrew Friedson

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics

Kyutaro Matsuzawa

San Diego State University

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics

Samuel Safford

San Diego State University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

One of the most common policy prescriptions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has been to legally enforce social distancing through state or local shelter-in-place orders (SIPOs). This paper is the first to explore the comparative effectiveness of early county-level SIPOs versus later statewide mandates in curbing COVID-19 growth.We exploit the unique laboratory of Texas, a state in which the early adoption of local SIPOs by densely populated counties covered almost two-thirds of the state's population prior to Texas's adoption of a statewide SIPO on April 2, 2020. Using an event study framework, we document that countywide SIPO adoption is associated with a 14 percent increase in the percent of residents who remain at home full-time, a social distancing effect that is largest in urbanized and densely populated counties.Then, we find that in early adopting counties, COVID-19 case growth fell by 19 to 26 percentage points two-and-a-half weeks following adoption, a result robust to controls for county-level heterogeneity in outbreak timing, coronavirus testing, and border SIPO policies. This effect is driven nearly entirely by highly urbanized and densely populated counties. In total, we find that approximately 90 percent of the curbed growth in statewide COVID-19 cases in Texas came from the early adoption of SIPOs by urbanized counties. These results suggest that the later statewide mandate yielded relatively few health benefits.

Keywords: coronavirus, shelter-in-place orders, COVID-19, urbanicity, population density

JEL Classification: H75, I18

Suggested Citation

Dave, Dhaval and Friedson, Andrew and Matsuzawa, Kyutaro and Sabia, Joseph and Safford, Samuel, Were Urban Cowboys Enough to Control Covid-19? Local Shelter-in-Place Orders and Coronavirus Case Growth. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13262, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3608511

Dhaval Dave (Contact Author)

Bentley University - Department of Economics ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452-4705
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

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

Andrew Friedson

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

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364
United States

Kyutaro Matsuzawa

San Diego State University ( email )

San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States

Samuel Safford

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States

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