Public Responses to COVID-19 Case Disclosure and Their Spatial Implications

30 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2021

See all articles by Kwan Ok Lee

Kwan Ok Lee

National University of Singapore

Hyojung Lee

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Date Written: December 15, 2020


During the COVID-19 pandemic, a few countries chose to disclose detailed location information of cases, along with mass testing and contact tracing, rather than a lockdown policy. In this paper, we study public responses to this information by using daily mobility and credit card transaction data in Seoul, South Korea. We first find that the disclosure of COVID-19 cases led to localized demand shock as both non-resident inflow and retail spending decreased significantly in neighborhoods with more cases. However, public responses to the disclosed information of cases do not appear to be homogenous across neighborhoods. Neighborhoods with higher employment density and land use diversity experienced a higher demand shock while mobility and retail performances of those with higher population density were less affected by COVID-19 incidences. Also, those with higher retail agglomeration were less resilient to the localized shock of COVID-19 case information potentially due to public concerns on the virus spread. Finally, we find a significant spatial spillover effect of disclosed COVID-19 information instead of spatial substitution. An increase in COVID-19 risks in both geographically and functionally adjacent areas reduced non-resident inflow and retail spending in the subject neighborhood. Results provide important spatial implications for localized economic resilience during and after the pandemic that differs from natural disasters and economic crisis.

Keywords: COVID-19; Location disclosure; Precautionary behavior; Spatial heterogeneity; Neighborhood spillover

JEL Classification: R21, R30

Suggested Citation

Lee, Kwan Ok and Lee, Hyojung, Public Responses to COVID-19 Case Disclosure and Their Spatial Implications (December 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Kwan Ok Lee (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore ( email )

4 Architecture Drive
Singapore, 117566
+65 6516 6254 (Phone)
+65 6774 8684 (Fax)

Hyojung Lee

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University ( email )

250 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

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