How Effective Are Social Distancing Policies? Evidence on the Fight Against COVID-19 from Germany
To fight the spread of COVID-19, many countries implemented social distancing policies. This is the first paper that examines the effects of the German social distancing policies on behavior and the epidemic’s spread. Exploiting the staggered timing of COVID-19 outbreaks in extended event-study models, we find that the policies heavily reduced mobility and contagion. In comparison to a no-social-distancing benchmark, within three weeks, the policies avoided 84% of the potential COVID-19 cases (point estimate: 499.3K) and 66% of the potential fatalities (5.4K). The policies’ relative effects were smaller for individuals above 60 and in rural areas.