Business Shutdowns and COVID-19 Mortality

28 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2020

See all articles by Gabriele Ciminelli

Gabriele Ciminelli

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Asia School of Business

Silvia Garcia-Mandico


Date Written: August 20, 2020


Governments around the world have adopted unprecedented policies to deal with COVID-19. This paper zooms in on business shutdowns and investigates their effectiveness in reducing mortality. We leverage upon highly granular death registry data for over 4,000 Italian municipalities in a diff-in-diff approach that allows us to credibly mitigate endogeneity concerns. Our results, which are robust to controlling for a host of co-factors, offer strong evidence that business shutdowns are very effective in reducing mortality. We calculate that the death toll from the first wave of COVID-19 in Italy would have been twice as high in their absence. Our findings also highlight that timeliness is key – by acting one week earlier, the government could have reduced the death toll by an additional 25%. Finally, our estimates suggest that shutdowns should be targeted: closing shops, bars and restaurants saves the most lives, while shutting down manufacturing and construction activities has only mild effects.

Note: Funding: None to declare

Declaration of Interest: None to declare

Keywords: COVID-19, business shutdowns, Italy, mortality

JEL Classification: I10, I18, I30, J44

Suggested Citation

Ciminelli, Gabriele and Garcia-Mandico, Silvia, Business Shutdowns and COVID-19 Mortality (August 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Gabriele Ciminelli (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Asia School of Business ( email )

Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan K
Kuala Lumpur, MA

Silvia Garcia-Mandico

OECD ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775

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