Effects of Social Distancing on COVID-19 Infections and Mortality in the US
26 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 29, 2020
State-mandated social distancing has emerged as one of the key tools for controlling the spread of COVID-19 around the world. In the United States, frustration over stay-at-home and social distancing orders has led some states to ease restrictions; raising questions over the efficacy of social distancing in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus disease. However, empirical evidence on the effect of social distancing on COVID-19 infection and mortality rates is non-existent. Our paper attempts to fill this gap with state-level evidence from the United States. Combining weekly infection and mortality data with a rich longitudinal socioeconomic data at the state level, we find significant reductions in infection rates as a result of social distancing. In particular, a 1% percentage point increase in social distancing decreases infections by 0.12%. On the other hand, we do not find mortality-reducing effects of social distancing. This might be because the mortality-reducing effects of social distancing take a while to appear. Our findings suggest that while social distancing helps slow the spread of the virus, it might not be enough to affect the death of those already infected.
Note: Funding: The authors did not receive any funding for this project.
Declaration of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Keywords: COVID-19, Social Distancing, Infection, Mortality, US
JEL Classification: I12, I15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation