The Benefits of Coronavirus Suppression: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Response to the First Wave of COVID-19 in the United States

Covid Economics 67 (February 4, 2021), 128-171

44 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2021

See all articles by James Broughel

James Broughel

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Michael Kotrous

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 4, 2021

Abstract

This paper estimates the benefits and costs of state suppression policies to “bend the curve” during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. We employ a value-of-production approach that values benefits and costs in terms of additions or subtractions to total production. Relative to a baseline in which only the infected and at-risk populations mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we estimate that total benefits of suppression policies are between $605.9 billion and $841.1 billion from early March 2020 to August 1, 2020. Relative to private mitigation, the costs of suppression policies are estimated to be between $214.2 billion and $331.5 billion. The cost estimate is based on the duration of nonessential business closures and stay-at-home orders, which were enforced between 42 and 65 days. Our results indicate that the net benefits of suppression policies to slow the spread of COVID-19 are positive and may be substantial.

Keywords: COVID-19, social distancing, cost-benefit analysis, value of a statistical life

JEL Classification: E32, H12, I18, I31, J17, K23

Suggested Citation

Broughel, James and Kotrous, Michael, The Benefits of Coronavirus Suppression: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Response to the First Wave of COVID-19 in the United States (February 4, 2021). Covid Economics 67 (February 4, 2021), 128-171, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3783563 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3783563

James Broughel (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mercatus.org/scholars/james-broughel

Michael Kotrous

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mercatus.org/people/michael-kotrous

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
78
Abstract Views
607
rank
133,093
PlumX Metrics