FindingApr 14, 2020

Poverty and Economic Dislocation Reduce Compliance with COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Protocols

Compliance with COVID-19 shelter-in-place ordinances is higher in high-income areas and lower in areas affected by the recent trade war and with higher GOP vote shares.
Chart
Varying Income Levels by County (2016)

Shelter-in-place policies reduce social contact and risks of interpersonal COVID-19 transmission. Though the economic consequences of these policies are substantial, local non-compliance creates public health risks and may cause regional spread. Understanding the drivers of what enhance or mitigate compliance is a first order public policy concern.

Clarifying these mechanisms provides actionable insights for policy makers and public health officials responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In our paper, we find a significant decline in population movement after the local shelter-in-place policies were enacted. Second, an increase in local income enhances compliance. Third, tariff-induced economic dislocation and higher Trump vote shares in 2016 reduce compliance. Finally, exposure to slanted media reduces compliance, consistent with the impact of information sources that downplayed the danger of COVID-19.