NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Impacts of State Reopening Policy on Human Mobility

Thuy D. Nguyen, Sumedha Gupta, Martin Andersen, Ana Bento, Kosali I. Simon, Coady Wing

NBER Working Paper No. 27235
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Health Economics

This study quantifies the effect of state reopening policies on daily mobility, travel, and mixing behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. We harness cell device signal data to examine the effects of the timing and pace of reopening plans in different states. We quantify the increase in mobility patterns during the reopening phase by a broad range of cell-device-based metrics. Soon (four days) after reopening, we observe a 6% to 8% mobility increase. In addition, we find that temperature and precipitation are strongly associated with increased mobility across counties. The mobility measures that reflect visits to a greater variety of locations responds the most to reopening policies, while total time in vs. outside the house remains unchanged. The largest increases in mobility occur in states that were late adopters of closure measures, suggesting that closure policies may have represented more of a binding constraint in those states. Together, these four observations provide an assessment of the extent to which people in the U.S. are resuming movement and physical proximity as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27235

 
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