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
Date Written: February 4, 2021
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
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