Act Early to Prevent Infections and Save Lives: Causal Impact of Diagnostic Efficiency on the Covid-19 Pandemic

51 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2020

See all articles by Simiao Chen

Simiao Chen

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Zhangfeng Jin

Zhejiang University of Technology

David E. Bloom

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of diagnostic efficiency on the COVID-19 pandemic. Using an exogenous policy on diagnostic confirmation, we show that a one- day decrease in the time taken to confirm the first case in a city publicly led to 9.4% and 12.7% reductions in COVID-19 prevalence and mortality over the subsequent six months, respectively. The impact is larger for cities that are farther from the COVID-19 epicenter, are exposed to less migration, and have more responsive public health systems. Social distancing and a less burdened health system are likely the underlying mechanisms, while the latter also explains the more profound impact on reducing deaths than reducing infections.

Keywords: diagnostic efficiency, information disclosure, social distancing, COVID-19, China, instrumental variable

JEL Classification: D83, H75, I12, I18, J61

Suggested Citation

Chen, Simiao and Jin, Zhangfeng and Bloom, David E., Act Early to Prevent Infections and Save Lives: Causal Impact of Diagnostic Efficiency on the Covid-19 Pandemic. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13749, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3704132 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3704132

Simiao Chen (Contact Author)

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

Zhangfeng Jin

Zhejiang University of Technology ( email )

Hangzhou, Zhejiang
China
15657917237 (Phone)

David E. Bloom

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States
617-432-0654 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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