A First Literature Review: Lockdowns Only Had a Small Effect on COVID-19

21 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2021 Last revised: 26 Jan 2021

Date Written: January 6, 2021


How important were the economic lockdowns in the spring of 2020 in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic and how important was lockdown as compared to voluntary changes in behavior? In the spring, the overall social response to the COVID-19 pandemic consisted of a mix of voluntary and government mandated behavioral changes. Voluntary behavioral changes occurred on the basis of information, such as the number of people infected and the number of COVID-19-deaths, and on the basis of the signal value associated with the official lockdown combined with appeals to the population to change its behavior. Mandated behavioral changes took place as a result of the banning of certain activities deemed non-essential. Studies which differentiate between the two types of behavioral change find that, on average, mandated behavioral changes accounts for only 9% (median: 0%) of the total effect on the growth of the pandemic stemming from behavioral changes. The remaining 91% (median: 100%) of the effect was due to voluntary behavioral changes. This is excluding the effect of curfew and facemasks, which were not employed in all countries.

Note: Funding: CEPOS

Declaration of Interests: The author is an employee of CEPOS, otherwise the author claims no conflict of interest - neither economically or personal - in the subject.

Keywords: COVID-19, lockdown, NPI, non-pharmaceutical interventions

Suggested Citation

Herby, Jonas, A First Literature Review: Lockdowns Only Had a Small Effect on COVID-19 (January 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3764553 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3764553

Jonas Herby (Contact Author)

CEPOS ( email )

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Copenhagen, 1301
27282748 (Phone)

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