Impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on individual mobility and the importance of socioeconomic factors

Julien Maire (PIIE)

Policy Brief
20-14
November 2020
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

In March 2020, most countries implemented stringent measures—closing schools and workplaces, limiting public gatherings, and curbing travel—to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Using the Oxford Stringency Index and smartphone data from Google, Maire examines the effects of the stringent measures implemented in March–May 2020 on individual mobility. The results suggest that stringent measures were more effective at reducing individual mobility in higher-income countries than in lower-income countries and that the differences reflect factors such as extreme poverty, perception of risk, the share of vulnerable employment, number of hospital beds, age distribution of the population, and population density. Understanding how the effects of lockdown measures on individual mobility differed across countries is important to determine the effectiveness of such measures on health outcomes and their impact on economic activity.

Data Disclosure: 

The data underlying this analysis are available here.

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