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Accounting for Global COVID-19 Diffusion Patterns, January-April 2020

Yothin Jinjarak, Rashad Ahmed, Sameer Nair-Desai, Weining Xin, Joshua Aizenman

NBER Working Paper No. 27185
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):International Finance and Macroeconomics, Public Economics

This paper takes stock of the daily data gathered until April 28, 2020, tracing the associations between COVID-19 mortality and policy interventions that aim to limit social contact and containment, accounting for global pandemic diffusion patterns. A panel local projection analysis suggests that, with a lag, more stringent pandemic policies were associated with significantly lower mortality growth rates. The association between stricter pandemic policies and lower future mortality growth is more pronounced in countries with a greater proportion of the elderly population, higher density, greater proportion of employees in vulnerable occupations, greater democratic freedom, more international travels, and further distance from the equator. Countries with greater policy stringency in place prior to the first death also realized lower peak mortality rates and flatter mortality curves. Countries with greater elderly population share or with higher degrees of initial mobility had higher peak mortality rates in the first phase of the pandemic. A survival analysis of the number of days until new mortalities peak suggests that countries adopting more stringent policies early on had significantly lower durations to the first mortality peak, while mortality rates took longer to peak in countries that are considered more democratically free, and those further from the equator. More data and research are needed to achieve sharper identification of these factors.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27185

 
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