Mobility and Policy Responses during the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020

39 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2021

See all articles by Gabriel Cepaluni

Gabriel Cepaluni

São Paulo State University (UNESP)

Michael Dorsch

Central European University (CEU)

Daniel Kovarek

Central European University (CEU)

Date Written: March 26, 2021

Abstract

This paper quantitatively explores determinants of governments' non-pharmaceutical policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus is on the extent to which geographic mobility affected the stringency of governmental policy responses. Using daily data since the beginning of 2020, we find that societies that are more geographically mobile have governmental policy responses that are less stringent. We pursue an instrumental variable strategy that exploits climate data to identify arguably exogenous variation in geographic mobility levels, which lends a causal interpretation to our results. One explanation for the sub-optimal result is that it may be more costly (economically and politically) for governments to impose stringent policies on more mobile societies. By examining disaggregated mobility data, we show that the negative relation between geographic mobility and policy stringency is the strongest for commercially-oriented movements. The relation is weaker for geographic movements that relate to civil society. This suggests that policy-makers are more willing to trade-off public health for economic concerns relative to other civil concerns.

Keywords: COVID-19, Geographic mobility, Policy responses

Suggested Citation

Cepaluni, Gabriel and Dorsch, Michael and Kovarek, Daniel, Mobility and Policy Responses during the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020 (March 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3817289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3817289

Gabriel Cepaluni

São Paulo State University (UNESP) ( email )

Av. Eufrásia Monteiro Petráglia, 900
Jd. Dr. Antonio Petráglia
Franca, Sao Paulo 14409-160
Brazil

Michael Dorsch (Contact Author)

Central European University (CEU) ( email )

Quellenstrasse 51
Vienna, 1100
Austria

Daniel Kovarek

Central European University (CEU) ( email )

Quellenstrasse 51
VIenna, 1100
Austria

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