The Effect of Domestic Air Travel on the Spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.

18 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2021 Last revised: 6 Oct 2021

See all articles by Jeffrey Prince

Jeffrey Prince

Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

Daniel H. Simon

Indiana University Bloomington - O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Date Written: February 16, 2021

Abstract

We examine the relationship between domestic air travel and the spread of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in the U.S. To do this, we link airline passenger flows with COVID-19 infection and mortality data, controlling for county-level population and demographic data. We examine infection and mortality rates in counties receiving more versus fewer airline passengers from four early COVID-19 hotspots: New York City, Boston, Detroit, and New Orleans. We then compare the effect of airline passengers from these four hotspots with the effect of airline passengers from a set of eight cities who did not experience early outbreaks. We find that passengers arriving from COVID-19 hotspots are not positively correlated with local COVID-19 infection and death rates. Passengers arriving from our eight comparison group cities are positively, but very weakly, correlated with local infection and mortality rates. Our results imply that banning domestic air travel may do little to slow the spread of infections.

Note: Funding: We did not receive funding.

Declaration of Interests: We have no competing interests with regard to this research.

Keywords: COVID-19, travel, airlines, travel ban, transportation policy

JEL Classification: I18, L93

Suggested Citation

Prince, Jeffrey and Simon, Daniel H., The Effect of Domestic Air Travel on the Spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. (February 16, 2021). Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 2021-20, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3786991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3786991

Jeffrey Prince (Contact Author)

Kelley School of Business, Indiana University ( email )

1309 E. Tenth Street
Kelley School of Business
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
8128562692 (Phone)
47405 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://kelley.iu.edu/jeffprin/

Daniel H. Simon

Indiana University Bloomington - O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
156
Abstract Views
1,561
Rank
343,851
PlumX Metrics